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Parenting-App Developers Hot in Pursuit of Exploding "iPhone Moms" Market

People tend to think of iPhone users as young, tech-savvy professionals. But there's an emerging consumer segment could be an attractive target for app developers and advertisers: the "iPhone mom." A Greystripe research report (PDF file) on mothers of children ranging from infants to 17 years of age shows not only that iPhone moms make up nearly a third of total iPhone users, but that more than 59% of them let their children use their iPhones.

Much of the iPhone mom's usage is devoted to tasks you'd expect from a new generation of Web 2.0-savvy moms. Nearly all of them (94%) download gaming and entertainment apps, presumably for themselves and to keep junior occupied during errands, dinners out, and car rides. About three quarters download music to their phones and 50% are maintaining their social networking lives on the go. But an entire genre of parenting apps has also emerged, many to help new parents in raising an infant, and some of which are downright fascinating, if not for the queasy.

diaperAside from live-updating their Facebook profiles with videos of baby's first steps, Apps like Andesigned's "Baby Tracker: Nursing" help breastfeeding moms keep track of nursing sessions by tracking time, side, and duration of feedings, and by maintaining a meticulous record that can be accessed with a few clicks. "Baby Tracker: Diapers" keeps a similarly detailed record of your little bundle's little bundles, even tracking the time between changes and predicting when the next change is likely to be (these two apps can be purchased separately or bundled as part of Andesigned's "Total Baby" app).

Then there are apps like "Baby List" that tap the collected wisdom of other moms to help new moms plan their days a little better, and "Baby Monitor," which attempts to replace older technologies with the iPhone—though using an iPhone as a baby monitor seems a bit expensive, not mention a waste of computing power. Other apps not necessarily aimed at the new parent demographic can also be leveraged to make parenting less stressful. Two different mommy blogs we visited recommended "White Noise" and "Ambiance," two soothing sound generators designed to send both fidgety babies and sleep-deprived parents into sweet, sweet slumber.

Parenting apps help manage teens, too. According to the study, 43% of iPhone moms have kids 15-17. "Teen Tracker" and "iCurfew" help keep parents keep track of their teens during the rebellious years. Both apps send an uneditable email link with the teen's GPS location, from his or her phone, to a parent's inbox, ensuring that kids out on the town really are where they say are.

You'd think educational apps would be a top priority for parents—37% of moms download apps aimed at boosting their youngsters' IQs. But here's where parents need to watch out. While it's hard to argue against the brain-boosting value of apps like "Scribble" that let children express their creative sides, educational entertainment for kids is under fire this morning. Disney is offering refunds to users of its "Baby Einstein" videos, which were marketed as educational but recently found by child development experts to not only do nothing for babies' brain development, but to potentially harm that development. Deciding which apps are educational for children and which are simply more noise can be tough, so buyer beware.

Still, as long as parents realize that the smartphone, like the television, is no replacement for human interaction and education, it can offer a helping hand to tech-savvy parents. As the iPhone mom segment grows, marketers are moving dollars into that space, which inevitably means more and more apps will be on offer. Mommy blogs devoted to the interests of iPhone moms have already emerged (that's how we know the iPhone mom is for real) that offer reviews, commentary, and advice on different apps as they emerge. Greystripe suggests the mommy demographic tends to be a late adopting one—tell that to the digital diaper changers.

[Via TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, ParentWish]