5 years ago, Forbes, WSJ, Business Insider, ZDNet and other media quoted experts and analysts stating that apps were dead. 4 years later the same media outlets reported mobile web was dead due to apps taking up more and more of consumer media spend.
So what’s the truth? Will companies continue to invest in web and apps, and should they?
The top 5 apps people use generate 80% of the mobile app consumption. This includes apps and games such as Facebook, Candy Crush, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter that some users check multiple times an hour. The average smartphone user checked their phone 150 times, or a total of over 170 minutes, per day in 2014. Is it realistic to think that your app can compete with these apps and services? How much time do people spend on your website vs. Youtube, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix? Probably not much. Most companies will be happy if users spend 5-10 min on their website per month. The average number of apps a smartphone user engaged with actually increased to 26.7 in 2014 and 50% of the apps are new releases year on year.
Changing success criteria
It’s time to redefine the criteria for success in mobile. Mobile moments captured is the new currency rather than time spent. Look up products, scan loyalty card, order, check out, pay or redeem an offer. If your app gets used every time the customer enters or leaves your retail store, airport, gym, hotel, sport arena, cinema or whatever your business is, then that’s a success. Short time spent could actually be a positive thing if it increases customer satisfaction. Identify the moments that are important to you and focus on how to make them successful.
Apps and Web
When it comes to the debate of native vs. web, this is definitely dead. Every company except maybe Uber, HotelTonight and Instagram need a website and some of them benefit from delivering part of their services through apps. However, you need to make sure that there is a good reason and incentive for customers to download and use whatever app you plan to develop.
So what’s a good reason or incentive? Ensure that the core use cases deliver a clear benefit to your customers. Save time, save money, get a VIP experience or entertainment. If not then invest the money in something more useful such as improving your mobile website, delighting your customers or making your employees happier.
Enterprise apps are special
Enterprise apps have different objectives and success criteria. We’ve worked with customers that are prepared to invest over $150,000 in an app that will only be used by 10 people. The benefit per user in terms of ability to serve customers better and to increase productivity was so great that it still paid off in less than 6 months. Some big companies are deploying 100s of apps helping transform their organisation and business into the mobile world. And this is a trend that has only just begun. A recent study concluded that the enterprise mobility market will quadruple in size in the next 4 years.
This doesn’t mean that every enterprise app will succeed. Just like with consumer apps and websites we see a lot of enterprise apps failing to bring benefits and appeal to employees and customers, eventually falling flat with no usage. Also note that the enterprise app definition is broader and tends to include web apps/responsive web as well as downloadable apps.
So web and apps are dead right?
We’ll let you be the judge of that, but hopefully you have an idea of where we think things are going. Where do you see the biggest opportunities over the next couple of years? Websites, apps, consumer services, enterprise or maybe something else? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts. Contact us for a quick call to continue the discussion!