Apple's iPhone changes the game for mobile

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While consumers were waiting in long lines last week to get their hands on Apple's iPhone, it was the marketers who were facing the big chalenges, according to mobile marketing executives.

Because the device gives consumers access to AT&T's Edge Internet platform and the entire Internet when in a Wi-Fi hotspot, the way many mobile Web pages are viewed will change. Currently most mobile users access mobile-enabled Internet, or WAP.

"We don't believe that it is an optimal experience for the [iPhone] user to look at Web pages that were designed for a big screen," said Andy Miller, CEO of Quattro Wireless, Waltham, MA. "The ad spend in this will be difficult, since the ads are not adapted to the mobile unit and they will be harder to interact with."

The intent behind allowing more access is to improve user experience.

"This will really make the Internet experience much better because you will be able to explore the real Internet and not a truncated version that you normally get on a cell phone," said Mark Siegel, executive director of public relations at AT&T Wireless, Atlanta.

Apple could not provide someone for comment at press time.

Aside from an Internet that was designed for a big screen, another drawback to the iPhone is that it does not support Flash, leaving many rich media sites static.

"If you are calling up a page that is designed to be converted on a smaller device it looks fine, but if it's just a regular Internet page you're calling up it looks a little funny," said Jeff Janer, chief marketing officer at Third Screen Media, Boston.

Some marketers are adapting to the new model - and Playboy is one of them. Timed with the release of the iPhone, the adult publisher has launched the iPlayboy collection.

IPhone owners may visit www.playboy.com to download a free set of 12 non-nude Playmate wallpapers, a separate photo album with twelve additional Playmate photos, an episode of Playboy Radio's "The Playmate Hour" that runs on Sirius Satellite Radio and is hosted by past Playmates, as well as a Playboy.com Cyber Girl video, all customized for the viewing on the Apple iPhone.

"We have always tried to stay ahead of the curve by delivering the fun, sophistication and sexiness of Playboy to our fans on the newest and hottest media platforms," said John D. Thomas, editor of Playboy.com, Chicago, in a statement. "And with so much buzz surrounding the all-in-one Apple iPhone, we knew we had to develop something specifically designed just for this device."

But the iPhone is not just a good excuse for a gimmick. The best thing about the iPhone for marketers may be the fact that the massive amount of attention it has been getting will encourage consumers to adopt the mobile Internet in general, regardless of device.

"It is doing a lot in upping the conversation for marketers for the mobile Web," Miller said. "Also, the data plan [or, bandwidth allowance] behind the iPhone is unlimited, which is how it needs to be to be adopted."

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