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The single most important element of the new 3G iPhone

Picture 16.pngUndoubtedly the iPhone is a game changing device that has turned the US mobile device market on its head. How many of the new devices that are coming out from manufacturers would exist today without the competition the iPhone provided.

With all of its features and its cool interface, there is one part of the new 3G iPhone (which launches today July 11th) that is the most important for marketers. That is GPS. For the first time ever, GPS will be fully integrated on a user-frindly, consumer device. It's intuitive, unlike previous phones where you had to hack to get it to work. Not only that, but the developer SDK allows you, the marketers, to create applications that use this technology.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were? Would you create an app that links people together who are physically close? Would you offer messages that were relevant to their present location? Here are a number of options that GPS location adds to the marketing mix unlike any time in the history of marketing.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were?

Geo-tagging - Now that the device knows where you are, it can add geo-tagging information to almost any data you collect. Shoot a photo at the Grand Canyon and upload it to Flickr and Flickr will pull the geo information and place the photo on the right place on the map. Send a message to Twitter and it could update your location to the nearest city name or even the exact location you're standing (creepy I know).

Proximity Awareness - Think about the possibilities of Facebook knowing where you are and where your friends are in real time. Facebook's iPhone app could alert you when any of your contacts are within 1/2 mile of your location. You could private message them to see if they can meet up or send them an SMS message.

For marketers, you could create an application (that people opt-in to by installing it) that allows them to receive promotions and offers whenever they are within a radius of a store. If Starbucks hasn't done this already I am not sure what they're waiting for. Users could adjust their radius or disable the messages at any time.

Mobile Commerce - This goes hand-in-hand with proximity awareness and is very powerful for marketers. The iPhone will allow easier commerce transactions to happen in a more trusted environment. From the application store to mobile song purchases, if you are serving up relevant, geo-targeted messages you can now follow that through purchase with micro transactions. This takes mobile messaging to a new level of effectiveness for marketing organizations.

Localized Search Relationships - Using search on the iPhone is effortless. Now, however, add in the location where the user is standing. Instead of searching for Chipotle and having to scan for the one near you, the phone will present you the closest location, give you the phone number and offer directions (which works like a car's GPS system with turn-by-turn options). Refer back to mobile commerce and apply that to search that is local and it's another way to drive business and conversions.

So, what do you think? More and more devices will surely follow suit. Are you ready for location? What value can you add to your customers that would help them adopt your product or service? What can you do before the competition to really set yourself apart?

If you're visiting this post on an iPhone check out my iPhone version (hat tip Chris Brogan).

Geo-location applications to keep an eye on:


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UPDATE: Thanks to Jim Kukral's question I looked for car-based GPS info on the new iPhone and found the following video. Since this video veers away from the Apple device and into the actual AT&T service plan I want to have full disclosure in telling you that AT&T is a Fleishman-Hillard client.

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