What Apple's big announcement means for content marketing

In a few weeks’ time now, the hot money is on September 9th, Apple will unveil its autumn product line up for 2014. Every time the company takes the wrapping off its new products the launch is preceded by huge amounts of speculation as to what those products are, and as the years have gone by the pundits, who are feasting on leaks from Chinese factories, have become more and more accurate.

This year the main event is likely to be the introduction of a new iPhone - the iPhone 6 which is apparently going to be issued in two separate formats with different screen sizes. The big story for Apple product devotees, and the tech industry in general, is that the iPhone 6 is very likely to be available at some time (again there is speculation that the handset will not be available until next year) in a 5.5inch screen inch version.

Image courtesy of Federico Ciccarese

Apple is often heralded by the media and the tech industry as a highly innovative company. However in almost all of its product launches it has not actually introduced something completely new. There were MP3 players before the iPod, tablets before the iPad and touch screen phones on sale before the iPhone. What the company is superb at doing  is taking formats and invigorating them by adding unique and innovative features, simple to use, elegant interfaces and of course wonderful product design.

With its 5.5 inch screen iPhone though it faces a tougher challenge as millions of similar sized phones (aka Phablets) have already been sold by the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG. And given the higher quality of the products available Apple is going to find it hard to innovate. It is clearly playing catch up here. The good news for the company is that its huge fan base around the world won’t care that phones that may be the equal, or even superior to the iPhone 6, have been available for months, the buyers will be excited by a product with the Apple logo on it.

The iPhone 6 and content marketing

What then does the arrival of the iPhone 6 mean for content marketers? Well in one way it masks a bigger story and that is the massive dip in sales of tablet PCs and specifically the iPad. Apple is likely to launch a new iPad this year too but whether it arrests declining sales remains to be seen.

The important part for content marketers is that it appears that almost everyone who wants a tablet PC and can afford one has probably already bought one. The hardware base isn’t going grow at anything like its previous rate and this has implications for companies who produce magazines for download via the Apple app store. Content marketers are going to have to look again at the figures and work out whether producing iOS magazine apps really is a worthwhile investment.

The question is further complicated by the fact that the iPhone 6’s bigger screen makes it more magazine app friendly, but arguably not quite large enough for users to get the rich interactive treatment offered by publications on the iPad.

Image courtesy of Martin Hajek

Publishers are clearly committed to producing iOS magazine apps, and they have some very definite plus points (compatibility with existing print magazines, ability to create email lists, importance of ongoing downloads per issue etc). The arrival of the iPhone 6, which in theory could also cannibalise tablet sales especially of the iPad mini, could mean that content companies need to look again at their mobile strategy. Is there a way of optimising content for larger iOS screen that gives a more tablet magazine style experience? Might it be time to start moving resources away from tablet magazine production and back into optimising mobile friendly websites?

Of course it will take time for the implications of the new launch to become apparent. There is also the potential launch of an iWatch, which again may present interesting opportunities for publishers, to consider. Whatever happens on September 9th it is sure to be a fascinating few months not just for Apple and the mobile phone industry but for content producers too.

Commissioned by The CMA

Posted in CMA blog
21stAug 2014

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