Should mobile advertisers really care about who wins?
Absolutely. Here's why: Different types of features introduced on new smartphones very much influence how people use their phones and how they engage -- or don't engage -- with mobile advertising.
One of the observations that we've noted is that while rich media ads tend to get more engagement from iPhone users, users on Android devices tend to convert at higher rates.
These particularities are due in part to demographic differences among iPhone and Android users, but also in the way they use their devices, which is very much dictated by the feature set of the phone.
For instance, when the Samsung Galaxy S4 came out, Ad Age speculated that the bigger screen, a possible native digital wallet app (like iPhone's Passbook), a better camera and eye-tracking interface for screen navigation would mean exciting new options for mobile marketers. They also hoped for a GPS-based feature that would help advertisers geo-target consumers as they physically approach retail locations.
Samsung didn't deliver all of these, but the S4 does have features that are markedly different from the iPhone. New gestures were introduced, like scrolling the screen by waving at it, or previewing items by hovering a finger over them. Imagine being able to use these gestures to also engage with advertising.
Samsung has also enabled Front Flash, giving users the ability to take better "selfies" that can be incorporated into socially sharable rich media, thus personalizing the ad experience. Finally, the phone is simply bigger, which will allow for ad units that make a deeper impression on the user -- and shoot down the "but the screen is so small" argument.
Market share by mobile ad impressions, Q2 2013
Samsung still has less than half the market share of Apple in terms of impressions, but it's important to watch its growth. In Q1, Apple smartphone shipments grew 6.7% while its Korean competitor's shipments increased by 60.7%, Forbes reported. Even just comparing volume, Samsung captured 32.7% of smartphone sales in the first quarter vs. Apple's 17.3%.
Who knows what will happen in the next year, and who will emerge as the winner in this smartphone war. In the end, what it does mean is more smartphones in the market and more innovation when it comes to features and usability, both of which are outcomes that mobile marketers can get excited about.