Unless you’ve been keeping your head buried in the sand these past few months, you must surely know what this gadget is. Yes, the Apple iPhone is releasing in less than a week. And I can’t wait. Among other things the new iPhone 3G offers 50% faster internet speeds, full MS Office and Outlook integration, and perhaps most interestingly an expected market of 20 million iPhone converts by the same time next year. Sounds outrageous? Apple expects more. This recent order of 50 million 8GB Nand flash memory chips placed by Apple from Samsung Electronics suggests that they expect the new iPhone to fly off the shelves.
It doesn’t matter whether you hate Apple or the iPhone, or if you’re a crackberry fan. By the end of 2008 Apple will have sold over 12 million of these things (they’re already past 6 million now). This creates a large standardized platform that is incredibly valuable and lucrative for anyone who wants to build a mobile business. What does this mean for mobile market research?
The 3G high-speed internet, coupled with a powerful, full-featured Safari browser means that you could run exactly the same surveys on the iPhone that you currently run online if you really wanted to. The functionality is all there, including the zoom in/out that allows a user to view complex web pages on a 3.5″ screen. The touchscreen limitation however means that in practise it will be difficult and painful for complex surveys to work well. We can’t expect users to make choices on a 12 x 24 grid of options on a tiny screen. But we can expect them to answer polls, or multiple-choice questions with relative ease. Safari will allow researchers to do more with mobile surveys than they currently can.
2. Apple Notifications API
By using a new real-time notification API researchers will be able to communicate directly to respondents, in real-time, on the device they have in their pocket. Notifying a respondent immediately when a survey is available for him/her is an obvious first application which would significantly improve project delivery times.
3. App Store
Apple is giving independent developers and enterprises the ability to directly reach millions of consumers through the new App Store. And you don’t have to pay anything to Apple if your app is free. I can see some of the mobile research companies developing a free survey app that will be distributed to thousands of consumers at no cost through the App Store.
Greenfield and some of the other companies experimenting with mobile research are excited, as they should be. This could be the big break mobile research has been waiting for. Will the iPhone get 20 million converts by the same time next year? Am I drinking the Apple Kool-Aid? Time will tell.