iPhone: Wooing Prosumers, Not Consumers?

So at least one major expectation for yesterday’s iPhone announcement came to pass: The new $199 starting price for the 8-gig model, subsidized by AT&T (which, shrewdly, will make up for it with more expensive data plans).

Despite the price break, and the eagerly-anticipated 3G technology that will make for speedier handsets, techies and current iPhone owners have been grumping about the improvements that didn’t happen. No improved camera, no increase in storage capacity, no multimedia messaging, no cut-and-paste capability.

At first, I agreed with these negative Nellies. After all, I do love MMS-ing friends and getting pix texts from them in return, and need as much storage as possible for all the cell phone photos I take now that my digital camera is on the fritz. But then, I got to thinking about what Apple really needs to do to dominate the smart phone space.

In a previous post, I mentioned IDC’s report showing that the iPhone’s share of the U.S. smart phone market fell to 19.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. In those same periods, IDC reported, RIM’s BlackBerry’s share grew to 44.5 percent from 35.1 percent.

Those figures can’t have sit well with Steve Jobs and his kingdom. Blackberry’s newfound strength came from its appeal among “prosumers”–people whose business-use of technology spills over into their personal usage. If Apple really wants to dominate smart phones in the U.S., it had better appeal to these prosumers as well.

In that respect, the technological offerings of the latest iPhone models are perfect for the targeted user; i.e. busy professional always on-the-go. Prosumers need faster handsets to better peruse the Internet and use email. They want to create a news feed (or at least a sports stats feed) to keep up on important happenings. And they need location-related features such as GPS and a friend-finder (both for personal use as well as to best make business meetings happen). The iPhone offers all that.

And while up-to-date mobile cameras are great, prosumers don’t necessarily demand them. Remember, the Blackberry for years didn’t come with cameras, and only included them once they started wooing users who were more consumer than pro.

Sure, as a consumer I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about the iPhone yet–meaning that marketers shouldn’t see the iPhone as the ultimate way to reach consumers. But brands who target prosumers should start thinking about how to best serve up their messages and ads on the new handset. Meanwhile, I might just take one anyway–and load up an outside app that gives it MMS capability.