So the sky didn’t fall in after all, nor have we reverted to drawing on the cave walls with charcoal, or sending each other messages with smoke signals since Steve Jobs’ retirement as Apple’s chief executive last month.
Instead, let’s all take a deep breath and start to consider what Jobs’ departure — strictly speaking a change in role, he is now chairman of Apple’s board — means for mobile marketing.
For a start, Jobs is undeniably the great disruptor when it comes to the mobile industry. As Justin Siegel, CEO of MocoSpace, said Steve Jobs was responsible for making voice calls a peripheral feature of a mobile phone. And despite the limitations of the iPhone, there is no denying it is a thing of beauty when it comes to usability.
Then enter the iPad. Clearly not a phone, and can do a lot of what you usually use a desktop or laptop computer for, but very definitely a mobile device.
Last year the third piece of the puzzle fell into place. iAds is a closed mobile ad delivery platform that allows iOS developers to monetize their apps, and brands to engage with users of Apple’s mobile devices — in a more exciting way than previously possible with mobile advertising, according to Jobs. The key, apparently, is entrenching mobile advertising into iOS4. Generally the jury appears to still be out when it comes to the success of iAds and how innovative it really is.
According to Jeff Hasen at analysts Mobile Groove: “[iAds] has been a large disappointment for many advertisers and others (like me) who looked at Apple’s move into mobile advertising as a milestone and much needed push to move the industry along.”
Hasen continues to say though that if iPhone is also sold via Sprint and T-mobile in the US, as is expected to happen this year, the critical mass needed for advertisers to see real returns might become a reality. And if we know one thing about Apple fans, they are willing to wait while bugs get worked out of products and service.
So what’s next?
Steve Jobs continues to be involved with Apple as chairman of the board, and industry commentators say he is expected to remain involved in product and strategy development. Tim Cook, former chief operating officer who now takes over the chief executive reins from Jobs, has sometimes been dismissed as an accountant and lacking Jobs’ flair, passion and charisma. However, general consensus seems to be he is a solid pair of hands and can execute the current plan well.
Cook himself said in an email to Apple staff: “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that – it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.”
The market seems to be calm so far as well, after a few shaky days immediately after Jobs’ resignation announcement. Gartner analyst Van Baker said: “My suspicion is that Apple will do just fine. There are so many talented people there and Steve’s attention to detail is baked into the culture.”
And while it appears to be business as usual at Apple, it is going to be interesting to watch what Apple’s competitors do. Shares in Samsung Electronics, the manufacturer of iPad competitor the Galaxy tablet, rose three percent, while LG Electronics jumped four percent after Jobs’s announcement, reported Memeburn. Samsung certainly seems to be upping the ante in terms of marketing and smartphones sales in recent months, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if it took this opportunity to grab market share from Apple.
As ever, it seems, mobile marketers need to stay nimble and on their toes, ready to respond to a constantly changing, but always growing, market.