"I have a conservative position on this," acknowledges Moorhead in an interview while in New York for the Advertising 2.0 conference. Like others in his postion, he's been deluged with clients in the last year who previously may have had little or no interest in mobile marketing but suddenly need to have their own branded iPhone app.
Moorhead's skepticism stems mainly from two factors: the small iPhone user base relative to the overall mobile phone population and the ever rising number of apps in the App Store. By investing in an app, marketers are trying to reach an audience of iPhone owners that makes up less than 5% of the roughly 300 million total U.S. mobile users.
And with the number of iPhone apps-50,000 and counting-growing faster than iPhone sales, it becomes increasingly difficult for new entrants to get noticed let alone hit the App Store's top 10 list. Worse, the typical lifespan of a downloaded app is only a couple of weeks before users move on to the next cool new offering. "You're chance of success is very slim," said Moorhead.
Instead, he often recommends clients spend the same $100,000 (not including marketing costs) or more on building a decent WAP site that will reach a far larger potential audience than an iPhone app. If an estimated 8% to 10% of clients' Web traffic is coming via mobile devices, it's important they offer a mobile-optimized site, he said.
Apple would be quick to point out, as it did during its developer conference Monday, that 65% of all mobile Web usage is generated by the iPhone alone. Moorhead allowed the iPhone's overrepresentation in Web browsing but noted that it still reflects only some 10 million U.S. iPhone users. Sporting a Nokia, Moorhead, fittingly, doesn't appear to be among them.