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Are iPhone applications the latest marketing frontier?

Recently I've noticed more and more iPhone applications being released in the run up to both film releases and real-world product launches for large purchase items such as cars. So, what do the marketing chaps want to achieve with these adventures into the world of mobile computing?

Can we summarize that the marketeers see the iPhone as a lot more than just a mobile device? I think so, otherwise they simply wouldnt bother right? The thing I simply cannot get my head around, is how, or indeed if, the marketeers look to get any ROI on what must be a sizable amount of time and investment to create these iPhone apps which are usually quite sophisticated games.

Rhino Ball

For example, lets take Rhino Ball - a pretty sophisticated 3D game in which you control a hamster in a rolling ball. Pretty amusing, but I cant say it really compelled me to go and see the film. So why bother? In times of recession and tight budgets, I simply cant fathom why they are spending money on this rather niche medium to touch a small group of people with a weak message.

Perhaps this is just a prime example of marketing depts. blowing budgets for the simple reason "its cool".

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