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Is It Time to Consider Mobile Marketing Alternatives to the iPhone?

No doubt about it - the iPhone and iPad have become mobile juggernauts. Little surprise, therefore, that marketers have been rushing to target these devices with apps and mobile ads. No one believes that either platform will fade to irrelevancy. However Apple is in a uniquely vulnerable moment now after rolling out a flawed iPhone 4. In this pause, marketers might want to at least contemplate alternative - or complementary - paths to reaching the mobile space. Consider the following:

Consumers have good reason to be annoyed with the iPhone, writes Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld. Data fees, connectivity and early termination fees are priced at premium - and don’t, obviously, deliver any value-add to customers. Even the iPhone's vaunted apps - which advertisers are targeting - can be seen as consumer-unfriendly, he says.  iPhone apps tend to be far more expensive on average. And a far higher percentage of Android apps are free of charge (via ComputerWorld). At the same time, most iPhone apps are too obscure to attract product reviewers.

"That means you have to pay for iPhone apps in order to try them or even to find out anything at all about them. If they aren't what you want, you're free to delete them. But you still have to pay, in most cases." In short, the iPhone is great, Elgan writes. "But be forewarned: Using an iPhone means companies are going to rip you off by charging you real money, and providing nothing at all in return. And there's really nothing you can do about it."

Apple isn't the only smartphone vendor who can innovate. Verizon's just-announced jumbo-screen Motorola Droid X, for example, has racked up a bevy of admiring reviews, according to the Gadget Hound.  In addition, more advanced models even offer games or television broadcasts in three dimensions - without the usual 3D glasses necessary to watch, the New York Times reports. These devices dispense with the "pesky glasses" using instead optics and other technology built into the display.

Samsung Electronics introduced its 3-D W960 touch-screen phone in May in South Korea, the Times said, with customers already using it to watch TV shows and music videos.

Apple's more relaxed about 3rd Parties - for the moment. Despite initial fears, it does not appear that Apple has barred Google and others from selling targeted ads inside iPhone and iPad applications. According to the Wall Street Journal, software developers are reporting that their applications are getting approved, even though the apps are enabled to serve ads by third-party ad networks such as Google's Mobile Adsense and AdMob - which Apple announced several weeks ago would no longer be allowed. It is possible that the specter of government intervention has stayed Apple's hand, but for the moment this is the biggest reason why marketers might want to consider other devices as well - their campaigns can still serve double duty.

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