FOR most people in the media and marketing world, the smartphone is a must-have work tool, not the fashion accessory it can be in the 'world outside'.
Nearly every marketing conference this column has attended in recent months has seen an audience of maybe 90pc iPhone users, with a smattering of Blackberries and Android handsets thrown in for good measure.
Outside of the 'media set' it also appears that the iPhone is the dominant force in the consumer smartphone market.
So it came as some surprise when Finian Murphy of Mindshare told his agency's digital conference this week that only 48pc of Irish phones are 'smart' and Nokia remains the dominant player in the smartphone market, with a nearly 40pc market share.
This is something that needs to be considered by advertisers when it comes to marketing products when they previously may have concentrated only on iPhone and Android platforms.
The most popular smartphone features used on a daily basis are searching and email, with social networking and news not far behind.
Interestingly, the majority of users still use a search engine to get around the net rather than typing in actual web addresses.
Despite the still relatively low smartphone uptake, it is increasing rapidly. Indeed, 87pc of mobiles now have a web connection with around 46pc of mobile owners using the internet on their mobile.
The level of engagement with smartphones varies by demographic -- men aged 18 to 34 years old are twice as likely as their female counterparts to use their smartphones. Emailing is the most popular feature for over 50 year olds, and social networking is the most popular for women aged 18 to 34 years old.
Mr Murphy, who heads consumer insights at Mindshare said: "People are triggered to search, post a Facebook status or seek more information about a news or a brand by what they hear on radio during the day, see on TV in the evening or read about in the press.
"Smartphones give consumers immediate access to brands when they want to find out more whenever or wherever they are.
"It is important to note that data connectivity is key to marketing opportunities.
"Over half of mobile owners don't use the internet on their mobile and therefore brands must recognise that apps aren't always the solution, but more basic services, such as texting, should be integrated within the media strategy."
Express yourself with pre-paid
THE Expression Card, Ireland's first Student Prepaid MasterCard, has been launched for the Irish market. The Expression Card is a new Student Prepaid Card which gives students access to a credit-card network without the fear of debt, overspending or mounting interest fees. The Expression Card can be used online, in shops and ATMs worldwide. Wherever you see the MasterCard acceptance mark you can use your Expression Card. You can personalise and design your card with a picture or image of your choice. Prepaid Cards Ireland director Martin Garvey said: "It has never been more difficult to get a credit card, especially for students. The Expression Card puts students in control of their spending as you can only spend what you load onto the card." www.expressioncards.ie
Cooley raises glass to travel sales
COOLEY Distillery passed the 100,000 bottle mark in travel retail sales in 2010, selling over 9,000 cases through the travel retail channel alone.
Cooley delivered a 26pc growth in sales in Irish airports in 2010, following a concerted marketing drive. The Louth-based independent distiller is now the second-largest spirits supplier to Aer Rianta and sold 45,600 bottles of their whiskey through Dublin and Shannon airports in the past 12 months. Cooley's global retail manager Stephen Teeling said: "Duty Free and airport retail is the third-largest market for global Irish whiskey sales and it is predicted to be a 500,000-case market by 2016."