“DTC marketers can’t afford the luxury of waiting to see how many people purchase an iPad they have to start experimenting with app development and marketing NOW,” says Rich Meyer over at World of DTC Marketing Blog.

The best example of an iPad DTC app Meyer could think of, however, was a cookbook for people with diabetes. As if the world needed a new diabetes cookbook!

I have an iPad and am enjoying it. I have even used it when cooking — propped up on my kitchen counter next to the chicken parts. But I used the browser to find a recipe for BBQ ribs — there were hundreds to choose from. I don’t need an app for that. I assume the Internet is also full of recipes suitable for people with diabetes.

But Rich was probably thinking of something more useful. Something like Sanofi-Aventis’s GoMeals app developed for the iPhone/iPod.

MM&M noted that “Sanofi-Aventis [S-A] is promoting it through outreach to diabetes bloggers as well as tactical advertising, such as banners on diabetes sites, and to the patient community through third-party orgs. As of [December 2009] it was the seventh-most-popular app in the free health and fitness section of Apple’s iTunes Store.”

I downloaded GoMeals for my iPod and used it to find restaurants in my area. You can compare the nutritional value of different restaurant menus and keep track of your own meals. It’s very useful for all of us, not just for people who have diabetes. BTW, I  “forgot” to use the GoMeals app to calculate the nutritional value of my BBQ ribs.

When I used GoMeals on my iPad to find restaurants in my area, it crashed. At first I thought it was because my iPad was not GPS-equipped, but “Mic” said that iPad does have GPS (see comments) — and he’s right! Google Earth knows where I am! At least within 100 yards of where I am. Anyway, S-A needs to fix this problem and develop an iPad version. But is it worth the effort?

The GoMeals app has absolutely no marketing ROI for S-A. It may only be one part of an overall marketing plan to position S-A as a player in the diabetes area. Dennis Urbaniak, S-A’s new VP of U.S. Diabetes, was previously Vice President of Innovation and New Customer Channels. No doubt Urbaniak was involved in developing the GoMeals app. BTW, listen to my Pharma Marketing Talk interview of Urbaniak: “What Sanofi-Aventis Learned from Its FaceBook Experience & What the Experts Recommend It Do Now.”

Geoff McCleary, a mobile and tablet computing expert and vice president of strategy for imc2 health & wellness, suggested these consumer-oriented apps for the iPad that pharma marketers should develop:

  • Weekly/monthly health eMagazine for disease state information
  • 3D, touch interactive MOAs for disease or treatment education
  • Branded support program materials delivered weekly or daily
  • Social media-based content for brands or disease groups

How much disease state information can a monthly eMagazine publish and how would an iPad app be better than opening your email and a browser? We don’t need an app for that. Same with branded support programs and social media-based content.

How about a “3D, touch interactive” MOA animation for Viagra or YAZ? Now those are pharma apps I’d like to see on my iPad!

You can find McCleary’s white paper, “Considering the Apple iPad™ for Pharma Marketing,” which has other ideas for apps — including physician-oriented apps — here.

P.S. The real marketing value of iPad is iAds, just announced by Apple’s Steve Jobs (see “Apple Unveils iAd, iPhone 4.0“). iAds are “in-app” ads served up while you are using a “free” app like GoMeals, which does not have any advertising. Personally, I believe in-app ads are annoying, but if the app is valuable, I will put up with them. For pharma, the hard part will be coming up with truly useful apps.