Posts Tagged ‘blackberry

17
Oct
08

iPhone making companies pay attention to mobile web.

Flying to Sydney this morning, I noticed in Qantas’ in-flight magazine that Qantas have launched a mobile web site. Fair enough… I’d say it was long overdue. The site offers the ability for flyers to check their agenda, check arrival/departure times and give feedback to Qantas. The functionality that would have been really interesting and valuable to users, such as mobile check in and mobile booking / payment are conspicuously missing, but at least they’ve made a start.

Anyway, what makes Qantas’ new mobile site more interesting is not the functionality, or the user interface (it’s incredibly sparse), but the fact that they are openly admitting they are releasing the website on the back of the (now 3 month old) iPhone 3G. In fact, the site is apparently optimised for viewing in Safari on the iPhone. Hmmm…

At first glance, this seems to make sense… iPhone, to many Australians, is the mobile web. Most of the comms we have seen for iPhone 3G in Australia so far have basically pitched it as some fantastic new way to access the Internet on the go. With Australian mobile web use being traditionally quite low, the introduction of the iPhone will be the first time many Australians step into the world of Internet access on their mobile. This means that the potential market for the Qantas mobile site is bigger, and the development spend from the site is much easier to justify as it will conceivably get more traffic.

However, the fact that Qantas have released a website on the back of the iPhone rollercoaster is a mistake… the site should have come earlier, and it is geared towards the wrong device.  When you consider that Qantas’ most regular and loyal customers are it’s corporate accounts, who probably have Blackberries or Windows mobile devices, why would you go and optimise your site for iPhone? This same segment of the market are more likely to be using data/web on their mobiles (since they don’t have to pay their data bill – the company does), so optimising for iPhone makes little sense. Steve Ballmer announced at a conference earlier this year that Windows Mobile will outsell iPhone this year. Add to this the fact that Blackberry still leads marketshare in the enterprise mobile phone market. The reason these devices are so popular in the enterprise space is that they are dedicated business devices. Despite recent added functionality to sync up with Exchange (meaning the iPhone can now theoretically do corporate email) the iPhone is still not a business phone…

So Qantas have released a website on the back of the release of a phone it’s most loyal and valuable customers are unlikely to be using… seems funny. On the upside, this somewhat knee-jerk reaction by someone at Qantas to the iPhone release is a very good example of the power and excitement around the iPhone. It has made the mobile Internet an attractive space both for marketers who were reluctant to pay for a mobile website, but who are now convinced of the excitement the mobile web can muster. It has also increased dramatically the number of end users who will consider using the mobile web to access a company’s services. This, really, is the most important part of any mobile service – people actually using it and finding value in it. iPhone has, as stated above, become the mobile Internet for a whole new generation of previously unconnected mobile users, though maybe not the enterprise (well, not yet anyway).

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