Scott Voigt, a colleague of mine at Silverpop in charge of product marketing, made a visit to our office this week and brought his iPhone with him. Ironically, Scott felt like everyone wanted to see the iPhone more than him, primarily because no one at our office had even seen an iPhone yet. Scott used his new gadget to his advantage to start some pretty good conversations about marketing with some of the most advanced marketers in the office.
The iPhone is the first phone/PDA I have seen with a full internet browser and, as expected, the user interface is very intuitive. Scott showed a group of us the iPhone for about a half hour. After the demonstration, Scott and I got to talking about how this new technology may change the way marketers utilize HTML email vs. SMS to send permission-based marketing messages to a prospect or customer's phone/PDA.
Scott came to the conclusion that the iPhone or copy technologies will reach wide acceptance and adoption in a short period of time, and even concluded that flip phones may be obsolete in a few years. I think he may be right. As a result, more and more people will retrieve and manage their email via their phone/PDA. I already do this today.
So what does all of this mean for permission-based electronic marketers? I think it means email will become even more relevant as a marketing channel while SMS will be a personal communication channel, like IM, not a marketing channel. SMS may also be used for other types of transactional communications like emergency alerts, reminders or confirmation receipts.
In summary, the iPhone and technologies like the iPhone have changed the game because rather than create new technology to replace today’s internet technologies they have leveraged existing internet technologies so the iPhone works with the tools we use today. Internet communications, specifically website technologies and email will become even more prominent and relevant as iPhone or like technology become more widely accepted. SMS still has a place, but its place may become more narrowly focused as a result of new technologies like the iPhone.