More on mobile: the “App Class”

To follow up on a post about using mobile tactics from earlier this week, a Pew Research survey on mobile contains some interesting findings.  Unfortunately, Pew’s headline (as well as Mashable’s post covering it) miss an important aspect for campaigns.

Both highlight that the survey says one out of four adults use mobile apps.  This is true – behold this chart (courtesy Mashable):

Where they see market growth (correctly), issue and candidate campaigns have to see stratification.  There are two mobile Americas: one which uses their mobile phone for games, music, news, directions, shopping, updating social networks, and other varied pursuits – an “App Class,” if you will – and another which really looks at the phone simply as a simple communication device to pass information viavoice (and occasionally text and picture).  About one out of three people look at their phone as a handheld computer.

If a campaign, therefore, is going to invest in an application, for instance, the design process has to consider that most people will not use it.  That doesn’t mean pulling the plug on the app – in fact, because the penetration of app-driven phones keeps increasing, it’s only a matter of time before every campaign has to have a customized app.  (Consultants, start your engines!)  What it does mean is that a wise campaign will ensure their app does the things the App Class will want to do.  As an example, it may be a better idea to have apps that connect with back-end campaign data to help precinct walkers and staff than to have apps that help people find their polling place.

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