Compete Blog: Smartphone Intelligence – The iPhone at the mall and on the road

Apr 10, 2009

By Danielle Nohe

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is an excerpt of a current article from the Compete Blog. Compete
Inc. is a web analytics company that focuses on understanding how consumers
use the internet.

Almost everywhere I turn, I see an iPhone: at work, on the soccer field,
on the street. My boyfriend and Mom both have them. Clearly these devices
appeal to a lot of people, and we’ve heard the iPhone described as "more
than just a phone" by owners. But what does that mean? How else are
people using their iPhones?

We explored these questions in the most recent fielding of Compete’s Smartphone
Intelligence survey. Two areas where iPhone owners really used their devices
differently from other Smartphone owners are coincidentally two of my favorite
pastimes: shopping and travel!

Our latest results showed that iPhone owners are using their devices more
than other Smartphone owners to help them make purchase decisions while they
shop and to manage logistics/get information when on the road or considering

Let’s start with a look at how Smartphone owners use their devices to shop.

The top half of the chart looks at the percentage of people who use their
device to look at third party product reviews when considering a purchase,
while the bottom half looks at the percentage of people who use their device
to check the price of item they are considering.

iPhone owners were about twice as likely to perform both of these activities,
and do so much more frequently than other Smartphone owners.

Let’s look at the findings around travel. More than three quarters (77 percent)
of all Smartphone owners said that they will either be planning or taking
a trip in the next six months, the majority (81 percent) for leisure. We
found that iPhone owners in particular used their devices in the planning
and logistics of their trip.

The chart above shows the likelihood of respondents to use their mobile
device for a variety of travel related activities during their next trip.
We can see that iPhone owners are more likely to use their device to help
them with their travel plans in every way we asked about.

Shopping and travel are two clear examples of how iPhone owners use their
devices differently than other Smartphone owners. Even though iPhone owners
are more likely to describe themselves as
"technically savvy" than other Smartphone owners, we’ll be investigating
how (and if) their behaviors change as more and more applications stores
are launched in the months ahead. Still, one thing is for certain: the iPhone
is more than just a phone.

Discussion Questions: What has impressed you about the iPhone, particularly
in its applications around shopping? What does the iPhone’s success say
about the potential of shopping via mobile devices?

Join the Discussion!

6 Comments on "Compete Blog: Smartphone Intelligence – The iPhone at the mall and on the road"

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Rick Moss
8 years 8 months ago
Just to get an idea, I did a quick search of shopping apps in the iPhone App store. All of the following are free or under $3. There are hundreds of such applications. I’m trying to imagine what the choices will be like in a couple of years. The Find: Where to Shop ( – Finds and directs you to the nearest store carrying what you’re looking for, comparing local and online prices. Locavore (Buster McLeod) – Detects where you are and shows what foods are in season. Grocery IQ (Free State Labs) – Fully featured shopping list organizer with a 130,000+ item database. Wine Entusiast Guide (MobileAge) – 1000+ expert wine reviews added each month. Sale Price (Maglevity Labs) – Quickly calculates your final price after discounts and markdowns. Gift List Budget Shopper (Ontomni LLC) – Tracks what you’re spending on whom. CARTster (Interestings) – Horn, Siren, Brake and other sound effects to help you get through crowded aisles. Supermarket Mania (GS Entertainment) – Time management game about running a grocery store.
David Dorf
8 years 8 months ago

Personally, I do most of my shopping online so there hasn’t been a need for using my iPhone in that capacity. But I do see people using Amazon’s iPhone application or just Safari. e-commerce sites would do well to create iPhone optimized websites for easy access from the iPhone.

Since I travel, I love FlightTrack/Tripit, Google Maps, and AroundMe.

Mary Baum
Mary Baum
8 years 8 months ago
I can’t say enough about my iPhone. I do have an app that checks prices, but I haven’t used it yet – mostly because I haven’t shopped for the sorts of things I’d likely use that app on. And the price difference would have to be enormous to justify the cost in my time to go to a different store after I’m already in one store. (On the other hand, if that comparison-shop activity were to put the brakes on an expensive impulse buy, that would be useful….) My daughter (college freshman) and I live and die by the Google Maps app on our original iPhones. And there are things that app does that even outshine a portable GPS unit, as we just saw on a recent road trip. The GPS unit will find the best route (mostly) and tell us, turn by turn, how to get somewhere. If we deviate, the nice lady voice (we named her Jennifer Garmin) will patiently recalculate the route and give us new directions. But what if we don’t… Read more »
Al McClain
Al McClain
8 years 8 months ago

As the decidedly non-techie RetailWire partner, I have to admit that looking from the outside in at the iPhone has me wishing my two year BlackBerry commitment weren’t just starting.

BlackBerries seem to be the tool/phone of choice for business execs and iPhones have been adopted by the creative/tech types, but BlackBerries sure seem clunkier.

The larger point is that just about anything a consumer can dream of doing on a computer will be possible on a smart phone in the near future, if it isn’t already. Marketers have to realize that a large part of their target audience, in many cases, is looking at their offerings and making all kinds of decisions about them while on the run, so they best make sure their products and services interface effectively with these devices.

James Tenser
8 years 8 months ago
Certainly the iPhone is the portable personal platform of the moment, and it has more available applications than any other smartphone. But what we’re seeing now is the tip of the iceberg with respect to ubiquitous device usage. Apple has a first-mover advantage, but I don’t believe it will corner the market forever. Soon-to-be-seen smartphone capabilities for shoppers will include secure digital “wallet” capabilities, using near-field communications (NFC) chips that communicate by tapping the phone on an in-store reader (like Visa PayWave, Mastercard PayPass,Mobil Speed Pass or other “contactless” payment systems). Since these applications require greater user security, look for new features built into handsets, like mini-fingerprint readers that permit rapid confirmation of transactions while preventing unauthorized use. On the commercial side, we can foresee making use of built-in cameras and GPS chips in standard phones to permit transmission of time and location-stamped digital images and scans. These will be useful for audits and reporting from remote locations, such as for field merchandisers. Much fancier, industrial-grade handsets are used for this today, but why use… Read more »
Joel Warady
Joel Warady
8 years 8 months ago

This is going to be a short answer. The iPhone is a game changer. It is not a smartphone. It is a fully functional computer that fits in your pocket. And if you are not creating strategic plans as to how to make the iPhone a part of your marketing and sales effort, you will be left behind by the competition.

Feel free to say this is overstated, but the fact is, for those companies that treat the iPhone as just another smartphone, they will find themselves wishing they had looked at the enhanced functionality earlier and more carefully, as well as how the product could have a positive impact on their business.


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