obamaI think the iPhone application developed by the Obama campaign was fantastic.  I’m on the record.  I’m also on the record that iPhone applications are a luxury item most organizations should skip, given the still relatively small user base of the device.

Since playing around with the tool, I’ve been privately wondering how many people downloaded and used it.  I was particularly interested in how many used the call component of the application to bug their friends and family to vote for Obama (which was really the entire point of the thing).

I played around with the tool a bit more this weekend and noticed the Call Stats option in the Call Friends area of the application.  As you’ll see on the right, it looks like 11,191 people made 41,075 calls.  Note: if I’m reading this number incorrectly, please enlighten me.

In the context of the massive scope of the Obama campaign, these numbers are miniscule.  The Obama campaign harvested over three million cell phone numbers through their VP announcement stunt and had volunteers make millions of calls by using the tools on their website.  This doesn’t even take into account Obama’s overwhelming online fundraising numbers.  It is hard to not be underwhelmed by the iPhone application numbers given the awesome success of the campaigns other efforts.

This is not to say that the Obama iPhone application wasn’t worth it for the campaign.  Tons of people undoubtedly used the application to keep in touch with the campaign and just skipped the Call Tool part.  In addition, the launch of the application also earned the campaign a lot of fawning press, congratulating Obama for being so tech savvy. But it is still hard to not reach the conclusion that the Obama iPhone application was little more than a middling success.

For organizations thinking about launching their own applications, these numbers should raise a big red flat about the ROI of these kinds to tools.  If the awesome Obama campaign can’t make an iPhone application that is a blockbuster success, what makes you think you can?  Proceed with caution.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.