Last week, Apple took the technology world by storm once again with the unveiling of its iPhone 5. As we’ve come to expect from major releases of the iPhone, there are significant improvements to the new model compared to previous versions of the phone. But how will the iPhone 5 impact the world of eCommerce and the way people use their phones for their shopping experience?
Here are five ways the iPhone 5 will affect eCommerce…
- With a larger screen retailers can display more content – The new screen on the iPhone 5 is almost five inches in height with a four inch display, a 15% increase over the three-and-a-half inch screen found on iPhone 4 models. With this larger screen sites now have more space to display content on the iPhone and users will need to scroll less, both welcomed changes to increase the user-experience of mobile commerce. The increased display size affects mobile advertising as well, creating more space for mobile ads in what is a growing and affordable online advertising avenue, which is expected to more than double in size by 2014.
- The iPhone 5 will have 4G LTE capabilities – What does this mean? 4G LTE stands for “Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution” which is the most advanced wireless communication network that is broadly available today. With speeds reaching up to 150 megabytes per second (more than 10 times faster than residential speeds available in Delaware, which boasts the fastest average home internet connection) this will allow retailers to dramatically increase the capabilities of their mobile site. In addition, given the influence and reach of the iPhone it will also force carriers to upgrade their mobile networks, impacting the network speed of smartphone users who do not own an iPhone. This could lead to a wider acceptance of more robust mobile marketing efforts including a wider use of mobile video content.
- The launch of Passbook to store personal information – One of the more controversial updates in the iPhone 5 is the debut of the Passbook, which stores identification card, loyalty cards, and tickets for retailers, travel, and entertainment. This should not be confused with the Near Field Communication (NFC) concept we have discussed in the past, a feature once deemed the “next big thing” in mobile by some tech industry experts. Instead, with the introduction of Passbook, the responsibility of mobile integration is primarily in the hands of retailers who can now e-mail promotional content to their customers which they can easily access and store on their phone. When customers enter a store at a later date they can use their Passbook to redeem the promotion – no apps, no downloads, no hassle for the consumer.
- Integrated iOS sharing with Facebook for the first time – Previous discrepancies between Facebook and Apple have been resolved as Facebook sharing is now fully integrated into iPhones (with the launch of iOS 6 to accompany the iPhone 5), similar to how Twitter sharing was added in the past. This is a beneficial change for eCommerce which has been hidden in the background behind some of the more robust technical specs as it now allows iPhone users to easily share content on the world’s largest social network. With Facebook deciding not to launch a line of branded mobile devices this partnership could last for many years to come.
- The iPhone 4 is now available for no up-front cost (under certain conditions) – Back when the iPhone 4 was launched in June 2010 it was a huge step forward by Apple from the iPhone 3 models, in particular related to speed and data storage. With the release of the iPhone 5, consumers have the opportunity to get the iPhone 4 for no up-front cost through certain providers. This promotional offer could possibly accelerate the reach of smartphone users throughout the United States, currently around 45% of adults in the country, and places a greater emphasis on mobile marketing for retailers in the coming years. Competitors of Apple will likely lower their smartphone prices as well to match the new iPhone 4 price point.
Approximately every two years we have come to expect Apple to set the pace for the future of the mobile industry and they haven’t failed with the iPhone 5. With the phone launching today, the reviews have been mostly positive and the hype is as big as it has ever been. Only time will tell exactly how the iPhone 5 will affect eCommerce, but like previous version of the phone, retailers will be watching and ready to react to the new innovations Apple has released.