Why Android Launchers matter to the B2B Marketer

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When you open your iPhone, you can of course change your background image. But the way the buttons appear – that’s the intrinsic Apple look and feel, part of what you pay for.

But have you ever wondered why Android phones all look and work differently, so that the Samsung operation from your home page is different to that of HTC, LG and others?

Android Launcher

Well that is all now changing – and in ways that are interesting businesses that want to understand how consumers use their devices, and would like to influence those processes.

Research firm Nielsen has reported that people are spending 26% of the time that their devices are switched on, working from the home screen. This makes it a very important area, which is now being fought over. It is after all ‘the launchpad’, the key to all subsequent mobile activity.

Hence the upsurge of Android launcher apps, of which there are already 4500 in Play Store (let alone other outlets) and the numbers continue to grow in this highly contested market. People are really taking to the idea of personalising their Android-based devices: research by Flurry showed a doubling of launcher users between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014. Some even use such apps to mimic iPhones, which is perhaps a bit sad: or maybe they are being ironic…

This is known by some commentators as the fight to gain ‘first swipe’.

Mobile Marketing

If you want to try one of these out, some apps (like GO Launcher EX) can be a great way of upgrading older devices that cannot use the latest Android 4: or if you are already up to speed with this version, you can gain extra functionality with the flashier apps. They offer ease of swiping, new widgets, and even 3D effects. But the big prizes for marketers are the data that they generate and the way that they can be used to serve up content.

This hotly-contested area has become much higher-profile since Yahoo brought it into the public eye by buying leading player Aviate for a reported $80m in early 2014. Why are they so interested in owning a piece of this action? Because it allows firms to monitor and therefore predict:

  • Times of greatest usage
  • Locations (domestic, work, leisure etc.)
  • Products most sought
  • Services searched for

Aviate alone is said to have >1 million users. Many of these will be of interest to B2B marketers seeking to relay tailored work-related messages at appropriate times, to the right people. Other leading brands include Apex, Lightning Launcher and Nova. They tend to offer basic free versions (with paid-for ads) and paid-for (ad-free) options with more features and greater stability.

Hard wired launchers

But it is not just software suppliers who are going to be supplying valuable data to advertisers, B2B or B2C: the hardware is already getting in on the act. Now that Amazon has its own Fire smartphone brand, it is building in a standard interface that is nakedly commercial, directing purchasers to products (available from Amazon, naturally) in many categories. Where Amazon leads, be sure that others will follow.

Mobile Marketing B2B

Google of course has its hardware brand too, Nexus, and it supports it with Google Experience Launcher as an officially approved product. You can make basic voice commands – it’s not exactly Siri-like, but it’s an advance on the standard offering.

Another interesting development is the acquisition by Twitter of Cover, a ‘smart lock’ piece of security software – the social network is now able to message you through Cover, even before you unlock your phone. This is not just ‘first swipe’ – it is ‘pre swipe’…

And the phenomenon will go beyond the phone – the latest development is the introduction of a launch app designed specifically for smart glasses and watches – ‘Android Wear’.

This is a fast-emerging technology and one to watch (forgive the pun). You can be sure that we will be monitoring the opportunities for Hannon Digital customers to take full use of the launch app explosion.