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Execs: iPhone Could Transform Mobile Marketing


High hopes aloft

Digital marketing executives are saying that Apple's release of its new video iPod/cell phone combo could speed up the adoption of mobile as a marketing and ad medium.

The new Wi-Fi-enabled phone, previewed at MacWorld, allows users to download and play music and videos, use Yahoo and Google search, read and send email, and make phone calls (via a deal with Cingular). With its wide, 3.5-inch screen, the phone also offers new promise for wireless video ads, writes MediaPost (via MediaBuyerPlanner).

Gene Keenan, VP of mobile services for digital marketing network Isobar, says the Apple iPhone could be the killer app that "sparks a revolution," while Tom Burgess, CEO of Third Screen Media, calls the iPhone the "beachhead for converging mobile devices," and adds, "There's no doubt that it is a step in the right direction for a more robust marketing medium."

Burgess says the phone will need at least 5 million users/month to bring in big ad dollars. It may take a while to amass that number, considering the starting price of $499. A senior analyst for eMarketer, however, says the device contains a number of user-friendly features that will appeal to buyers, particularly early adopters - e.g., scrolling through voice messages visually, as they already do for music and email.

Apple says it can sell 10 million of the phones next year.

The phone is also expected to speed adoption of mobile music and video downloading - which has been slow to take off: In 3Q06, only about 10.5 percent of cell phone subscribers had music players on their handsets, and only 2 million had downloaded full tracks (per mobile research firm Telephia).

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