Evolution of an idea.
I read WIRED’s “Web is Dead” article and the very first graph rings true to me.
You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smart phone. Another app … (etc.) … You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not the Web.
I have this idea: Companies ought to consider developing “corporate apps” that provided basic and helpful information ranging from “directions to our locations (from your current location)” to “latest job openings” to “latest promotions” (for consumer brands).
Different users would have different reasons to download the app. For example, jobseekers love it when a badge pops up to alert them to a new job opening, customized to their profile… A NineWest shopper is delighted to be alerted to a nearby shoe sale…
Then I read “The Great App Bubble” in FastCompany. Uh-oh. These graphs grab me:
In 2009, analytics start-up Pinch Media reported that people barely use the majority of apps they download. Only 20 percent of consumers utilize a free app the day after they download it. By 30 days out, less than 5 percent of consumers are still using it. Paid apps have a slightly better performance record, but they still get hit with a steep drop in usage within a period of 11 days. The value of most apps may be in satisfying the curiosity of what the app can do, not in its usefulness or relevance in a user’s daily life.
Marketers are spending money on iDevice apps at the expense of improving their mobile Web sites that everyone with a smart phone can access … iDevice app development actually costs 10 times more and reach is 50 times worse. Sex appeal will only trump pragmatic reach for so long.
So: apps are increasingly important. And yet, apps are increasingly ephemeral: download, use, delete.
Where’s the middle ground?
For those brands seeking basic functionality (i.e., not a wildly-ambitious branded videogame), why would we not advise investing primarily in a mobile site that was directly accessed via a lightweight mobile app? The app might have some simple, additional features but nothing so grandiose as to warrant a $35,000+ price tag.
Sometimes a wildly ambitous app is the right approach. But if it’s not, or if you’re not sure, consider a strategy like this one first.
You certainly can’t lose by initially suggesting an approach that will be available to 100% of mobile users (vs. a narrow slice, e.g., just iPhone users).
Posted on: September 6, 2010 at 8:39 am By Todd Defren