John Deere goes app: ‘Mower Match’ is an interactive brochure for their riding lawn equipment lines
A question: do farmers own iPads? construction professionals? landscapers? That is a similar question to one I used to hear in the nineties: do folks in such-and-such industry use the Internet? It was usually a rhetorical question posed by B2B executives as a way of proving that investing in the web was a waste of time. Oops.
Now the B2B media industry is facing the growing use of mobile devices such as smartphones — and then there is the iPad.
The good news for the B2B industry was that in the nineties, when it was missing the boat on the Internet, it was also the most prosperous time in our nation’s history. So, as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and so most B2B magazines went on to sell a record number ad pages, allowing them to eventually begin investing in their first websites — all after getting the bejesus scared out of them by VerticalNet.
But 2011 is most definitely not 1999. The economy still stinks, and so ad pages have remained depressed. Further, with so few B2B’s investing in mobile or tablet publishing, it is pretty much been up to the clients or agencies themselves to begin experimenting with app development.
That is a roundabout way of bring us to this new iPad app from John Deere. Called Mower Match, the free app is basically an interactive ad for the company’s lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers. Now if you are not a landscape professional, a zero-turn mower is one of those mowers that allow you to mow around a tree, or the dog, if necessary.
The dollars needed to develop this app clearly won’t be going to a landscape magazine.(disclosure: a one time I was the publisher of a transportation construction magazine, Roads & Bridges and a landscape magazine, Landscape & Irrigation, where we received John Deere advertising.)
Also, just as very, very few B2Bs got into the business of building websites for their advertising clients out of fear that websites would help them market their products without the need of the magazine, so, too, I have yet to hear of a B2B getting into app development for their clients. The closest example I can think of is Penton, who has worked with developers to create new mobile apps for trade shows they are involved.
Not building ad clients websites did not prevent manufacturers from launching their own web initiatives, and not building apps will obviously prevent clients from experimenting with mobile and tablets.
John Deere is not the first company to launch a product for the iPad or iPhone, but they are certainly among the first. But this won’t be the last, if history is any guide.