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Become a Very Important App with iPhone 5?s new fifth row

By Morris Martin

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, on Sept. 21, the sixth generation of the iPhone ? dubbed the iPhone 5 ? will ship to consumers in nine countries and, by year?s end, the iPhone 5 will touch down in 100 countries across 240 carriers.

Last week?s Apple keynote brought to light one of the more impressive changes to the design of the iPhone: the 0.5-inch increase in diagonal screen size, bringing the screen size of the iPhone 5 to 4 inches compared to the 3.5-inch screen of its predecessor, the iPhone 4S.

By virtue of the additional screen size, the iPhone 5 now maxes out at an 1136x640 retina display, which enables consumers to view more email, see more of their calendar and assumingly become more efficient with what their thumbs click on.

But one of the underrated aspects as a result of the increase in screen size is the new fifth row of application icons that will now be viewable and added to the iPhone 5?s landscape and, most importantly, the coveted smartphone?s homepage.

Rowing right
The iPhone homepage typically consists of the most frequently accessed apps by a consumer: finance and utility apps, contacts and calendar, and gaming and entertainment.

The four existing rows on an iPhone homepage have been known as the Very Important App (VIA) locations, particularly when existing outside of a folder.

For those developers monetizing their applications with in-app ads, reliance on the frequency of use and time spent by consumers who install their apps to increase the number of ads displayed is critical, making the iPhone homepage the pièce de résistance.

Acquiring real estate on a consumer?s iPhone homepage should be a primary goal for an app developer.

By being selected as one of the VIAs, a consumer has identified your app as crossing over the velvet rope, making it consciously or subconsciously part of their daily lives.

To date, there have been technology limitations and privacy concerns over revealing the exact location of an app on a consumer?s iPhone.

The ability to gather the longitude/latitude or relative app location of a specific app on the iPhone canvas has been a puzzling issue.

Apple does not surface this information and though a few companies have touted results from proprietary methodologies, we are still in the early days of discovering exactly how and why consumers organize the apps on their iPhone in the manner that they do.

Roping the opportunity
With the additional 0.5 inches of screen size that the iPhone 5 brings to market for iOS consumers and the resulting fifth viewable row being made available, app developers have an extremely rare chance to become a VIA and join the homepage club.

By obtaining this coveted real estate, developers can increase the probability of their app being in view when consumers access their iPhone 5, potentially aid in brand awareness and favorability, and increase frequency of use, therefore leading to significant gains in advertising revenue.

Here are a few ways developers can assist their app on the road to becoming a VIA:

1. Incentivize the consumer. Offer a free level-up or exclusive content to the consumer if the consumer moves your app to the homepage. The resulting move may not be traceable, but a significant increase in advertising impressions over time could be attributed back to the promotion.

2. Offer daily value. By offering a daily piece of content or utility that has frequent value to the consumer, the consumer would be more likely to move your app into daily view, possibly gaining your app access to the coveted homepage.

3. Act now. The iPhone 5 will be in the hands of people in nine countries on Sept. 21 where existing iPhone users will likely load their iPhone landscape settings from a previous sync and new customers will begin to download and organize apps accordingly. Placing text within the description of your app in the iTunes store and offering daily value upon installation or around Sept. 21 will give your app an opportunity to join the VIA club.

THE LARGER SCREEN size and addition of a fifth row on the iPhone 5 will have a profound effect on how consumers organize their apps, resulting in a rare opportunity for developers who monetize their apps through advertisements to join a prestigious club whose real estate exists on the iPhone homepage.

This rare window of opportunity opens on Sept. 21 and the velvet rope likely closes shortly thereafter, so app developers?act now.

Morris Martin is director of insights at Velti, New York. Reach him at .