The iPhone as a Youth Marketing Tool

iPod TouchWhat’s the cool new device for kids and teens? Move over Nintendo. The Apple iPhone and iPod Touch are taking the youth handheld market by storm.

According to “Taking Stock with Teens,” a new study by Piper Jaffray, Apple’s making great strides in capturing the teen market with the iPhone.  Piper Jaffray found that eight percent of teens use an iPhone, with 16% of teens planning on buying one within the next six months.

Another recent study conducted by Nickelodeon revealed that nearly all parents (90%) believe that the Apple devices are appropriate for use by children under 18. The iPod Touch in particular is becoming very popular with younger kids. Most younger users inherit a hand-me-down iPod Touch from an older sibling or parent when they upgrade to the iPhone.

When I read this statistic, I immediately thought of my two-year old daughter, Sofia. She LOVES my iPod Touch. What’s not to love? It’s loaded with her favorite shows: Dora, Wonder Pets and Yo Gabba Gabba. When she gets in the car she immediately requests her favorite songs: “Happy Birthday” by the Ting Tings, and “Again and Again” by The Bird and the Bee. While we’re at home sitting on the couch, she asks to see pictures of herself on my Facebook page.

She will definitely inherit the iPod Touch once I buy my iPhone in the next few months. While I never thought I would say that, I know I’m not alone. The iPhone and iPod Touch are so popular with parents and kids, that a new website, iPhoneAndKids.com, provides parents with “tips and application reviews for iKids.”

For many parents, the iPod Touch is a cost-effective replacement for the many devices in the typical kiddy e-toy arsenal.  An interesting article on iPhoneAndKids.com, “5 Concerns About Buying iPod Touch for Children,” does a great job addressing this:

” … for us [parents], it replaced many of the educational electronic VTech and LeapFrog toys we got for spelling, colors, animal sounds, etc. We also have many story book apps on it. It also replaced my son’s DVD player, which we use mostly when we are traveling. When we add the cost of those all up, from the price point, iPod Touch was worth it’s value.”

Marketing and Education Opportunities

So what does this mean for companies serious about reaching a younger audience through new media? Whether you’re looking to create brand awareness or provide education—take a close look at the iPhone/iPod Touch platform.

For example, Nickelodeon recently released new applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The applications are games based on the hit TV shows SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and iCarly. PBS Kids Sprout is introducing two free iPhone applications that lets users stream three to four minute podcasts of Sprout content and promotional clips.

For credit unions looking to deliver financial education or create games for younger members, developing your website and activities with the iPhone platform in mind is a smart strategy. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Connection speeds. Not everyone is on broadband. Mobile connection rates demand a fast website.
  2. Screen resolution. The iPhone has a wide screen resolution of 320 by 480 pixels. Users can zoom out to see the entire page, or zoom in for finer text. The touch-screen enables scrolling from left to right. When designing for very young kids, keep scrolling to a minimum—the fine motor skills needed may be a bit too much.
  3. Flash not supported. If your site is built in Flash, or you’re using Flash games or video on your site, they will be inaccessible on an iPhone. Provide options for users, such as HTML sites or Quicktime movies. You can also host video on YouTube, as the iPhone supports YouTube video.
  4. Navigation. Consider the age of your users. Just because a child is comfortable using technology and can physically navigate the device doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the cause and effect of all the available functions. The limited screen size makes simple and logical navigation a must.

With the iPhone and iPod Touch becoming the “go-to” device for kids and teens (and parents), it’s not enough to simply develop websites for Internet Explorer and Firefox anymore. Make mobile devices a part of your online strategy and your younger visitors will appreciate it.

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