Once upon a time, not all that long ago, a mobile phone did what its name said: It let users talk on the phone while on the move, away from the house or office.
Soon most of these phones gained the capability to also send text messages, take photos and play music. And now more and more people around the world have so-called smart phones—devices like the iPhone, Blackberry or Droid that enable users to not only make phone calls and enjoy entertainment-oriented activities but also check email, surf the Web and download Apps that do just about everything except change the tire on a car or cook dinner. (Just wait, those Apps might be available soon.)
According to various studies, the adoption of smart phones has been growing globally, from 11% in Italy last year to 36% in the US, 48% in Germany and 70% in the UK. While penetration is still fairly low—about 17% globally, the same in the US and up to highs of 23% in Spain and 28% in Italy—as the number of smart phones purchased increases and, presumably, prices decrease (let’s hope the same can be said for the cost of subscription plans, too), we can expect those rates to rise.
That opens the door to the development of even more Apps for every imaginable function and type of user. Petfood Industry is now doing its part for petfood professionals by launching an App for the iPhone and iPad, along with an enhanced version of our mobile reader that also works on other smart phones.
The App, which can be downloaded free from Apple.com or iTunes.com, gives readers full access to the magazine, interactive features and news and product feeds from our newly redesigned website, PetfoodIndustry.com. The App allows you to:
The mobile Web reader gives readers many of these same features on other mobile devices, such as a Droid or Blackberry, simply by pointing the device’s browser to www.petfoodindustry-digital.com. Again, you can choose between a graphic or easy-to-read text version of each article.
Just think, many pet owners probably use smart phones and Apps, too. Apple’s iTunes store, which boasts well over 150,000 Apps, includes dozens of pet-oriented ones. You can also find some pet Apps listed here, including one from Eukanaba called Off Leash that lists the five dog parks closest to your location (or any zip code) and provides directions.
I’m probably overlooking other Apps from petfood companies, but no doubt there are plenty of opportunities still available to use an App to build awareness—and possibly sales—of your brand and company. For example, if your brand is not available at many retailers yet, perhaps you can have a “food finder” App developed, where users receive directions to the nearest outlets selling your products. Or perhaps you can partner with a retailer like PetSmart, which has its own App featuring sales on featured products.
The sky—or should I say cyberspace—is the limit to reaching current and potential customers via mobile devices.
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson is editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry and Petfood Forum.
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