Since Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world in 2007, it has become an iconic symbol of the mobile age. With the latest generation of iPhone – the iPhone X – hitting stores this month, now is a good moment to reflect on how this eponymous device has revolutionised both society and the way that brands speak to consumers.
Crucially, it has set the stage for a power shift from brands to consumers and contributed to the rise of what we call, “The Entitled Consumer”. Here are eight ways in which the iPhone has shaken up our consumer experience:
1. Created the “always-on” consumer
Remember when receiving phone calls and checking emails was only possible when a person was stationary and near access points? Remember when we used to say “brb” when stepping away from our machines. Not anymore – we are always online, we live here now.
2. Empowered consumers like never before
Given this constant connectivity, information is always available and only a few moments away. As a result, consumers feel a level of empowerment for purchase decisions – they can do their own research, compare options, and ask for recommendations from friends via social networks at any time. Knowledge is power.
3. Commoditised consumer data exchange
Context is now king. Consumers are willing to share location information, in addition to other private data, in exchange for brands understanding context in the midst of a value exchange. Take Uber and Liftshare for example. The ride-sharing economy wouldn’t be possible had it not been for their ability to collect data on customer contexts, such as location. Consumers value the exchange of personal info such as context when it makes their lives easier, and despite Uber’s recent setback in London, all signs point to this trend increasing over time.
4. Increased our appreciation of great design
With a deeper connection to devices, consumers want their experiences to be easy, intuitive, simple and elegant. Thanks to the iPhone, design thinking must be embedded in anything brands present to consumers. It has also raised the bar on usability in our everyday lives. If something is hard to use and unattractive, consumers will turn their attention elsewhere.
5. Ushered in the “selfie” generation
Social media usage has made self-promotion an accepted part of life. With a simple check-in or quick status update (along with a selfie taken via the reverse camera), consumers have a keener sense of self and what they want more than ever. Brands can capitalise on the “me” culture by celebrating uniqueness. By leveraging data, they can enhance individual experiences rather than provide a generic experience to all customers.
6. Created the ultimate personal dashboard
A smartphone is like a technological version of a Swiss Army Knife. It is a means to make calls, send text messages, check email, connect via social, execute mobile payments, book concert/airline tickets, track your schedule and so much more. The phone is the dashboard to our lives and provides so much utility that consumers expect all things that pass through the device to deliver on that promise of convenience.
7. Increased the ways to communicate with customers
Despite being more connected than ever, we’re also more selective in how we communicate. Consumers want to do business with brands that have easy and flexible ways to get help and engage in dialogue. Some people, for example, want to make food delivery orders via apps rather than on the telephone. Even hotels are opening up their concierge service by allowing guests to communicate via WhatsApp. The ubiquity of smartphones means that brands need to be available wherever the consumer is.
8. Decreased our attention spans
Today’s consumer has an attention span of less than eight seconds – shorter than a goldfish. Consumers are bombarded by messages – they need a reason to pay attention. Brands are no longer competing against other brands. They’re competing for the attention of all the activity taking place on the smartphone at any given time, so make your messages count.
The values and principles that made the iPhone such a success ten years ago are retained to this day: sophisticated simplicity paired with an obsessive focus on consumer needs. It’s a great lesson to marketers everywhere.