iPhone Delivers Bling – iPod Touch Delivers Bang For App Economy

iPhone gets all the attention and the lion share of the paid app economy according to industry observers. However, it is the iPod Touch that is the workhorse in delivering the sheer numbers that drive the 2 billion+ app downloads. For marketers seeking to extend their brand targeting a teen-male-fashion-gadgets-social audience in the app economy, iPod Touch users represent the primary sweet spot.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and get the lay of the unit volume land. iPod Touch represents approx. 40% (22.3M*) of the global OSX installed base as of Q3 2009. In particular, iPod Touch has played particularly well in North America and the UK and proportionally continues to represent a larger install base than the global figures and coincidentally come in at the same level; approx. 46% (15.5M) and 46% (1.9M) of these respective markets.

Note: Apple does not release iPod Touch global or regional figures. However based on certain publicly available resources it is possible to reasonably estimate.

The rise in downloads continues to scale with the latest figures coming in at 10.5 million apps per day. But here is the real kicker. For every 1 app downloaded by an iPhone user; 1.8 apps are downloaded by an iPod Touch user, according to Admob. Almost double. This translates to iPod Touch consuming 54% (146M) of all apps globally and 12M in the UK in the month of September 2009. Given that iPhone volume is accelerating and iPod Touch is expected to grow within a stagnant overall iPod market, a crossover point is expected later this year. Nonetheless, the iPod Touch segment remains a key demographic versus the flash of its twin brother.

As a target audience how are iPod Touch users uniquely defined versus iPhone users? According to comScore and Flurry Analytics they have;

Lots of teen angst. 69% are between 13-24 years and are primarily characterized as teen centric

Less cash. Only 66% have at least 25K annual income

Zeal for fashion and gadgets. More likely to be in the market for mobile, clothes, TV’s and other consumer electronics

Voraciously share their lives. Made up of heavy MySpace, Facebook and SMS users

Of course, one thing both devices have in common is machismo, depending on which industry report you read they are 65-70%+ male.

Here is the slap in the face. iPod Touch users have an insatiable appetite to download the latest shiny new thing; however the tendency is to use it once and chuck it. According to Pinch Media, only 20-30% of users return after first use. Laughably this plummets to approx. 1% of users that continue with the product after 70-90 days. Indeed, Flurry with a much larger sample indicates that in North American and the UK the retention level is 12%. They define this as someone who has downloaded an app at some point in the past and has used the app in the past seven (7) days. Neither Pinch or Flurry break it down by device type, however given the trigger happy nature of iPod Touch users, I would suggest they bear the brunt of the responsibility for these types of stats popping up.

So, if you are a marketer wanting to target this teen-male-fashion-gadgets-social audience, what to do. I would suggest you either create a super engaging app or explicitly design a throw-away app. Don’t bother with the in-between. The app type should factor into your decision-making process as according to Flurry, categories like music, health & fitness and news tend have higher retention levels. In contrast categories like lifestyle and predictably entertainment have lower levels.

Often the best marketing is simply embracing user behaviour and not trying to get all fancy pants on your target market. Design for “use once & dump”, deliver a great one-off “pop” of utility that reinforces the brand. The bonus here is likely to be a faster and cheaper rollout based on a simpler concept realization process.

In contrast, the engaging app needs to deliver a well crafted experience in terms of content, design and go-to market elements. Part of that experience is the integration of social capabilities to appeal to that voracious sharing need mentioned earlier. The result is, hopefully, durability and traction over the long-term with your audience. Indeed, one might argue the reason why users download and use once is the large number of lame home-grown apps.

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