Imagine this scenario: you're watching the latest episode of "Mythbusters" on the Discovery Channel when an ad for Nationwide Insurance appears. Are they trying to sell you insurance? Of course, but they're also touting their new Nationwide Mobile (click opens iTunes) iPhone app, which Nationwide policyholders can use to report accidents, start claims, and find local agents or repair shops.
Later, you're watching NBA playoff action and you see an ad for E*TRADE that catches your attention. It's not that you want to lose more money in the stock market, but you're fascinated because the ad is talking about the E*TRADE Mobile Pro app for the iPhone. Banks have been doing iPhone apps for a while, with Chase and Bank of America taking the lead.
Are you beginning to see a trend here? Sure, maybe a handful of ads doesn't make a trend, but more and more companies are delivering apps that provide a mobile solution for their customers, and then advertising that iPhone-based solution to a wider audience on TV. Why? The iPhone, despite being on the market for two years, is still considered to be leading-edge technology, and it has an unparalleled "cool factor". Any company wanting to show that it's cool and on top of current mobile technology is going to jump on the iPhone connection.
I wouldn't expect to see any Microsoft apps for iPhone soon. What apps and related ads would you like to see?
Update: Thanks to the many readers who pointed out that there are two Microsoft apps available: Seadragon Mobile and Microsoft Tag Reader. Of course, I seriously doubt if they're going to tout either of these apps in a TV ad.
Additionally, we've seen a DirectTV ad that shows a customer interacting with the service via his iPhone. They're not promoting the mobile app or the iPhone, just using it in a matter-of-fact way. Interesting.