Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps Aren’t Dead Yet

By Carla Rover

The $38 billion mobile apps and ads industry faces a small army of skeptics, despite the industry’s 5-year growth trend.

Critics cite apps with copycat services, unwieldy user interfaces and unclear consumer data-handling practices as the reason for their belief that the format will soon become obsolete.

Apps Don’t Have to Die

It isn’t mobile as a platform that’s the problem, say some analysts, it’s unsound strategy. Most mobile apps, according to research by Gartner and the Wall Street Journal, fail because of poor design and trend-driven rather than use-driven business models.

Consumers Want Consolidation, Not Chaos

Out of about 800,000 apps in Apple’s App Store, only  .0001% produced more than $1 million in revenue in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported. That’s because consumers attempting to choose from hundreds of thousands of offers are forced to rely on word-of-mouth or ads to select apps that meet their content, productivity and shopping needs.

App Makers Should Simplify Choice

Consumers, according to researchers at Columbia University, find numerous choices and steps overwhelming—so much so that they tend to walk away when forced to make multiple decisions.

Apps that require a series of manual connections will eventually fail, regardless of their independent value, because consumers are used to the one-click installs of apps created by the industry’s largest companies.

Consumers Want Content, Not Just Commercials

Wrapping enticing free content in an overwhelming number of ads is counterproductive, writes Sunil Gupta in the Harvard Business Review.

The popularity of music and TV apps attests to consumers’ willingness to engage with popular content via mobile, but viewers’ disdain for mobile ads is stronger than their resistance to traditional Web ads.

Consumers Want Practicality and Privacy

Consumers’ privacy concerns in the US and UK have hit an all-time according to a recent study of consumers by Accenture, with most believing that data privacy now a myth.

Apps that offer clear data usage guidelines as well as enhanced protections from extreme forms of data exploitation—such as the unauthorized use of facial recognition data from web videos—will edge out the competition. Companies will race to innovate ahead of increasingly restrictive European mobile data privacy laws.

An App Revolution

Next Generation apps will be content-commerce-service hybrids, writes The Economist, offering consumers simplified access to vital data as well as favorite content without having to add a range of mobile services to access them.

Apps that simplify users’ online experiences and offer seamless connectivity with other favorite content, social and productivity apps will withstand the competition, say analysts. That means that the old install and login methods will eventually cease to exist, as app makers move towards solutions that allow consumers to accomplish necessary tasks with a single click; accessing content libraries, shopping carts and personal data in secure settings.

Future apps won’t look or feel like the apps of today—they’ll be leaner, more cost-effective and centered on helping consumers accomplish tasks on-the-go—mobile at heart, not just in name only.

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Carla Rover