Mobile phone applications are opening new gateways to the Internet of Things and marketers can seize this opportunity by offering strong mobile customer experiences.
Over the holiday season in the U.S., mobile devices drove almost half of all online traffic. Within the mobile growth story, the main player has been the mobile app.
More than 86 percent of the average mobile consumer’s time is spent using applications. This trend is increasing at the expense of the mobile browser. So, people are using their mobile devices, and although it wasn’t long ago that people thought mobile apps were going to be a thing of the past, apps are actually leading the way.
A great deal of this application use is through household names like Google and Facebook, but there are other apps that are great for everyday use that haven’t reached mass adoption, and untold new ones in development.
These mobile apps could easily become a part of our daily routines and disrupt a variety of industries along the way.
Ever lost your TV remote or car keys? Attach a Tile to them and your problem is solved. What about the lights in your home? Dim them or change their color with Lifx. Or use Machtig’s Pulse LED lights and adjust your music. You can adjust your household heating or cooling with Nest. You can even use apps to help you brush your teeth. Beam monitors your brushing habits, and your kids, and even gives you the latest content trending on Vine and YouTube. Each of these examples couples the mobile application with the physical product to create the complete product experience. The application plays a leading not supporting role.
In the future, the purchase decision relating to light bulbs/thermostat/toothbrushes may have more to do with the application, including its usability or features, than to the physical product.
Companies that are experts at creating world leading applications will compete alongside traditional consumer product companies. However, existing product companies may have an advantage. If they are able to link their tens or hundreds of products through a consistency of experience – either through one master app or across multiple apps with a similar feel – this could create the switching costs to keep customers in the fold. It could also provide these brands with a significant data footprint of consumers as well as create opportunities for advertising footprints down the road.
Philips is taking note. They already have a number of applications available for their products, including hue for personal wireless lighting.
The larger opportunity is not in connecting your mobile to a product, but connecting multiple products together in the wider ecosystem of connected devices or Internet of Things. Through a "conscious home," the customer could have the ease of daily life, where the house lights are automatically at the right level of brightness, and the thermostat at the right temperature, and the lightbulbs are playing songs from their favorite playlist. This offers limitless opportunities for customer insights and personalized messaging.
And it isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Last year around this time, Google made a big leap into this space by acquiring Nest. This year we have the recent announcement of Nest’s partnership with 15 leading manufacturers – including Philips and hue lighting, as well as Whirlpool and LG. This represents another significant step toward achieving the Internet of Things. The agreement moves us closer to a common operating system that would allow these products to be more closely connected.
Mobile applications will play an increasingly larger role in our daily lives and 2015 will be an interesting year in this space. Consumers will start using their mobiles to control their physical products at a mass-market level. Existing consumer electronics companies will continue to link mobile with their products, and work toward connecting their products to one-another. And the network of partnerships will grow on a path to making the Internet of Things a reality.
Marketers need to consider what role mobile plays in the mix going forward. Is there an opportunity to enhance the product offering through mobile applications? Or tie multiple products together through a consistency of mobile experience? Or, are there longer-term opportunities to pursue in customer insight and personalization through the Internet of Things?