The first generation of smartphone apps were gimmicky brand building games, utilities and information services. Some of our favourite examples include Carlings pint, the Zippo lighter app, Nike Running and our very own Malibu Bowling with 10s of millions of downloads. The primary purposes were brand awareness and brand building and it worked.
The second generation of apps were focused on mobilising existing online services while adding some mobile specific functionality such as location, camera integration or motion detection. Hotel booking sites turned into a hotel booking app, SalesForce mobilised the ability to view and add customers and sales opportunities, eCommerce sites turned their product catalogue and shopping basket into a mobile version and banks turned the online banking experience into a mobile app.
The third generation of mobile apps are mobile by design. The concept creator came up with a concept that was not based on existing web functionality and behaviour but rather specific insights, needs, use cases and user behaviour from mobile users. Something with uniquely mobile inherit features. Great examples include start-ups like Hotels Tonight, Tinder, Uber and Instagram but also well-established companies including Starbucks, Sonos, 3M Water Dealer app, Warburtons Field Force app and Singapore Airlines media viewer connecting to the planes screens without built-in computers.
For most organizations creating a 3rd generation app means giving up what they have today and starting over from scratch (which is usually OK as the average lifetime of the code of a mobile app is about 3 years). Forget about looking at what functionality customers use today on the web and design the service based on the needs and requirements of a mobile user interacting with your organization and services. Leverage context including location, situation and time as well as data-driven insights from previous behaviour, interests and usage patterns to personalise the user experience and anticipate what the user needs before they know it. Get it right and your mobile presence can become truly disruptive just like some of the other 3rd generation apps mentioned above.
We estimate that only about 1-2% of apps have reached 3.0 so now is your chance to beat the competition and win users. Our previous blog Winning in Mobile 2015 is a great starting point as well as our insights on user centric design.
Contacts us if you need help creating your 3rd generation apps.