The iPhone and iPad have dominated retail headlines over the last month. Apple sold 3 million iPads in its first 80 days on the market. Concurrently, the new iPhone 4 sold 600,000 units in one day in the United States. These numbers are extraordinary considering it took almost two years to sell 1 million iPods and it took 74 days to sell 1 million units of the original iPhone. The only hurdle slowing sales has been Apple’s ability to stock the shelves.
Both the Republican and Democratic parties have taken note of this trend. The NRSC struck first with the introduction of its iPhone app in May. The app contains a newsfeed, videos linked from youtube and basic information regarding Senate races and candidates.
At the end of June, the DNC introduced its own iPhone app. The DNC’s app includes a “Call Congress” function, a newsfeed which allows users to e-mail or send the story over social media and an event locator.
Lastly, Congressman Adam Putnam became the first active member of Congress with an iPhone app on July 1 when he launched an app to aid his campaign for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.
Congressional leaders and campaigns need to continue to jump on board. In 2009, the amount of data used in texts, e-mails, streaming video and music on U.S. cellphones surpassed the amount of data used for voice. Simply put, Americans are progressively using their cellphones for more than talking. 42% of cell phone users have downloaded an app, and that number is only going to increase. Capgemini, a mobile consulting firm, estimates that mobile app revenue will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 30% from 2010-2013. Apps are becoming an increasingly important tool for Congressional leaders to engage their constituents, and particularly those pesky young voters.