Folllowing up on the previous post about mobile apps that are more actionable, “branded apps” could be moving in this direction.
For those unfamiliar, these are spun out by national brands seeking impressions through an iPhone app. They are often games meant to engage users in a theme related to a product in some way (i.e., Coke “spin the bottle” app). They are pervasive in the app store, though famously bland.
Zippo is starting to think differently though. The makers of its popular “virtual lighter” iPhone app (5 million downloads) are talking about ways to become more actionable at the local level. Steve Smith’s MediaPost column speculates that Zippo’s association with concerts (waving it around during ballads) could be an opportunity for music sales or concert promotion through the app.
Along with the Chipotle app in the previous post, it represents a direction we believe others will go as we evolve beyond mobile local 1.0. This has mostly been defined as apps that replicate an online local search model (i.e., “what” and “where” search fields). Local search on the phone will be more defined by actionable features that calibrate to the portability and location awareness of the device (and other inputs like voice and visual).
The handful of apps that have begun to “think” in these terms so far include TheFind, Urbanspoon and ShopSavvy. MobilePeople, the company that built the recent DexKnows line of apps, is also a one to keep an eye on for some upcoming apps that will define where mobile and local are (and should be) moving.