Ten Years Later: How the iPhone Changed Consumer Expectations

 
 

When Steve Jobs took the stage in June of 2007 to introduce the iPhone, it captivated the world. It wasn’t the world’s first smartphone, but the experience it offered was far beyond anything the competition had offered to date. The must-have device spawned the mobile age and kicked off fierce competition to innovate in the mobile space, which over the last decade has changed our lives dramatically.

 

With the launch of the iPhone 8 this month, it’s worth looking back on how much the device has affected modern society and set the stage for the power shift from brands to consumers—specifically contributing to the rise of what we call The Entitled Consumer. Here are the top eight ways that the iPhone has shaken the consumer experience:   

  1. Consumers are always connected

    Activities like receiving phone calls and checking emails used to be relegated to moments when a person was stationary and near access points. That’s no longer the case. Now that consumers have the freedom to be impulsive, communication no longer has to be planned and purposeful. Now, we’re always connected.

  2. Consumers are empowered

    Given the constant connectivity, information is always available and only a few moments away. As a result, consumers feel a level of empowerment for purchase decisions – they can do their own research, compare options, and ask for recommendations from friends via social networks at any time. As a result, consumers are knowledgeable in any way they seek to be.

  3. Consumers expect context

    Context is now king. Consumers are willing to share location information, as well as give up a level of privacy, in exchange for brands understanding context in the midst of a value exchange. Take for example, Uber and Lyft. The ride sharing economy wouldn’t be possible had it not been for their ability to collect data on customer contexts, such as location. Consumers value the exchange of personal info such as context when it makes their lives easier, and all signs point to this trend increasing over time.

  4. Consumers require design and usability

    With a deeper connection to devices, consumers want their experiences to be easy, intuitive, simple and elegant. If something is hard to use and unattractive, consumers will turn their engagement elsewhere.  Design thinking has to be embedded in anything you present to consumers thanks to the iPhone and how it raised the bar on usability in our everyday lives.

  5. Consumers are self-centered (but that’s okay)

    With the pervasive use of smartphones, came a wave of social media usage that led to an acceptance of self-promotion. With a simple check-in or quick status update (along with a selfie taken via the reverse camera), consumers are all about themselves and have a keener sense of self and what they want more than ever. Brands can capitalize on the “me” culture by celebrating uniqueness and leveraging data to enhance individual experiences vs. providing a generic experience to all customers.

  6. Consumers value utility

    A smartphone is like the technological version of a Swiss Army Knife in that it is a means to make calls, send text messages, check email, connect via social, execute mobile payments, book concert/airline tickets, track your schedule, etc. The phone is the dashboard to our lives and provides so much utility that consumers expect any and all things that pass through the device to deliver on that promise of convenience.

  7. Consumers value flexibility in how they communicate

    While we’re more than connected than ever, we’re also more selective in how we communicate. Consumers want to do business with brands that have easy and flexible ways to get help and engage in dialogue. Take, for example, people wanting to use apps to make food delivery orders over calling. Brands need to be available wherever the consumer is, as a result of all the ways to engage enabled by the smartphone.

  8. Consumers have short attention spans

    Today’s consumer has a shorter attention span than a goldfish—less than 8 seconds. Given the volume of messages and the disruptive nature of the smartphone, consumers need a reason to pay attention to any given message. Brands are no longer competing against other brands. They’re competing for the attention of all of the activity taking place on the smartphone at any given time, so make your messages count.

The first iPhone kicked off a mobile revolution that has accelerated the transformation into an “always-on” empowered digital society. Yet despite the rapid advances in both hardware, software and features and the hype surrounding the latest device, on the occasion of the iPhone’s 10th birthday it is worth nothing one simple truth: the values and principles that made the iPhone such a success ten years ago are retained to this day: sophisticated simplicity paired with an obsessive focus on consumer needs. If that’s not a lesson to marketers worldwide, then I don’t know what is.