Apple hooks new users with free holiday app
By Kari Jensen
December 11, 2013
Apple's 12 Days of Gifts free application may come with a hidden price - interactivity.
Customers who download the free app will receive free downloadable content from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6. The timing and variety of free content in this promotion seems to indicate a two-part strategy, according to analysts.
"First, this should help with engaging users who are opening new devices on Christmas, to make sure they immediately start using iTunes for all their media needs," said Tom Cummings, manager of client development at Fiksu, Boston, MA. "Second, for both new and existing users, this promotion seems like an effective way to encourage more cross-category use of iTunes."
"Active app downloaders who typically get movies through Netflix might try an iTunes movie instead, if it's free, or might download an eBook from Apple instead of Amazon," he said."The upside for Apple is in additional lifetime value per user: driving more iTunes purchases over the life of each device."
Mr. Cummings is not affiliated with Apple. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.
The 12 Days of Gifts app is available for free download from Apple's App Store. The app will allow users to download 12 free gifts - one every 24 hours - for 12 days. The downloadable content will include free songs, apps, books or movies.
Once the app is downloaded, users select the iTunes Store that matches their billing addresses' country or region. Users are then prompted to accept or decline push notifications from the app.
On Dec. 10, the app's main screen read: "16 days until your first gift arrives." It will then countdown until users have "12 days of free gifts" and then "11 days of free gifts," and so on.
The app requires iOS 7 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
A screenshot of the app
Offering the app for free for a limited-time is a smart move as consumers are increasingly expecting apps to be free as more developers move to a freemium model.
For example, the Butterball turkey recipe mobile application was offered free to download for the first time this past Thanksgiving (see story).
Offering free apps enables brands and companies to engage with users and then continue to communicate with them on an ongoing basis.
Both tablet sales and app sales increase during the fourth quarter around Christmas, according to analysts.
"All signs seem to be pointing to an even bigger year for apps than last year," Mr. Cummings said. "Apple's new phones and tablets are being adopted more quickly than last year's models, and year-over-year download volumes have been 25 percent to 35 percent up most months this year.
"Apps are becoming more and more essential to people's everyday lives and traditionally see a huge bump in December," he said. "About 20 percent of total yearly app downloads occur in the last month of the year."
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York
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