Mobile Culture Lab–creators of iPhone and Android apps.

The keynote presentation by Apple’s Chief Executive Steve Jobs at the World Wide Developers Conference on Monday, June 7, debuting the new iPhone 4 brought significant attention to the growing mobile culture wars between platforms, operating systems, and carriers. But for those of us working in youth culture markets, there’s a very different story going on that needs to be considered when creating your mobile business strategy.

First, all brands need to consider a mobile strategy if they don’t have one already. This is where the future lies and it’s important to be in this space asap.

Secondly, while iPhones in general are the sexy new phone and creating iPhone apps is the place were most brands have chosen to spend their dollars, this isn’t necessarily a 360-solution, especially for youth culture markets. As we’ve quantified in our upcoming Summer Study -The Digital Lifestyle of Youth Culture 2010, 13-25-year-olds have different mobile phone patterns, including those who use Android or iPhones specifically, and the types of mobile carriers they prefer and why.

The install base for smart phones for youth culture as we report here, reflects a different kind of mobile app market which requires a new way of thinking. Each platform shows significant growth but indicate different patterns of growth because they each have issues -and many that do not jive with youth mobile patterns.

First, the iPhone 4 has several very cool new features, most stemming around video capabilities. Its upgraded Skype app feature with front-facing camera is great for chat but currently only works over WiFi and between 2 iPhone 4’s. It does have a super-sharp 5 megapixel camera and video geotagging which means you can tell the location of where the shot or vid was captured. And the iPhone 4 will work with the iMovie app for editing videos.

While many people (older people) debate the need for editing on a cell phone, they clearly don’t know how young people use their phones differently than older people. On the flipside, Skype isn’t as popular among today’s generational texters.

There is also the problem that iPhones are expensive, and for those who bought their iPhone long, long ago, back in 2009, spending another $500 isn’t a pleasant thought. Parents, who often pay for their kids cell phones, are less likely to drop $500 on an iPhone than an Android phone for under $150.

There’s also the issue of iPhone’s exclusivity with AT&T. People are hating on AT&T for dropped calls and the recent announcement that they would be metering bandwidth. According to our data, many young people are downloading significant amounts of content, which now means that parents may restrict this because of the costs. No more unlimited data plans with AT&T. Ergo, those of us who watch YouTube or vids on our phones may get one giant bill at the end of the month. Or worse, parent’s of kids who stream video. So those features such as iMovie and creating videos and watching videos, including YouTube clips just got less attractive.

Vans Warped Tour Android app created by Mobile Culture Lab.

Google’s Android mobile software, which also offers rich photos, video, and so on, work on all carriers. Sprint’s Evo for example, allows you to download YouTube clips but also upload your own YouTube clips.

For those brands and agencies creating mobile apps, while new OS killer apps with cool features on the newest iPhone 4 sounds excellent, don’t forget to look backwards when looking to the future. It’s important to remember compatibility with new and old install bases. There’s nothing worse than spending money to create a cool new iPhone app, only to lose a percentage of your install base with that new “upgrade” because it’s not “backwards-compatible” with older phones. Within this vein, it’s also important to know what apps youth markets are looking for most, and their patterns of usage, which may not be the latest cool app a mobile tech person who doesn’t work in the marketplace is thinking of creating. Knowing usage patterns and why vs. what you’re actually building is essential. Our new Study shows youth usage patterns and what’s most wanted.

So what is the size of the youth market’s install base and where are they’re going? (Sorry, subscribers only.)

Google, who is giving Apple a run for their money, is ramping up quickly and building its install base. The problem like the old Mac vs. PC issues, is that there are multiple vendors and carriers making Android phones with all different specs, sizes, functions, etc. so making applications can be a testing nightmare unless you know what you’re doing.

The race is on: Right now between 2 platforms. And in the business of mobile apps in youth culture, you better know what’s going on in the marketplace, both with what young people are doing and looking for, and manufacturers so that what you’re creating is not incompatible for future or past phones the very day it launches.

Early next month, Label Networks is releasing our largest Study yet on the Digital Lifestyle of Youth Culture, featuring in-depth mobile lifestyle data, charts, trends, and forecasts, plus how the youth market interacts within the mobile space, internet, and social networks. For those working in the mobile space or creating a business strategy for the future of youth culture, such knowledge is of keen importance. Because of this, the Summer Study -Digital Lifestyle of Youth Culture 2010 will also be available to buy as a separate report (free to subscribers).

For more information about Label Networks’ Summer Study -Digital Youth Culture Lifestyle 2010, or Label Networks’ technical mobile division, Mobile Culture Lab (, creators of iPhone and Android apps, email; (323) 630-4000.

Label Networks offers subscribers and readers free iPhone and Android apps.

Label Networks%uFFFD iPhone app, free on iTunes, created by Mobile Culture Lab.