Monday, 15 June 2009

THE APPS ECONOMY AND THE EVOLUTION OF MOBILE SOFTWARE


I like this piece by Kyle Bean, a young British artist. More here about him. It conveys the rapid innovation the mobile phone has undergone, and underlines the fact that miniaturization is not the next challenge any more. Nor is it about packing the phone with more hardware features, such as bigger and better cameras, or music, or screens. It's all about the software and the application, as proved by Apple and its App Store, and Google and Android.

I am a very reluctant convert to iPhone Apps, as you might read in this piece in Marketing Magazine. With such a tiny share of the market, for me creating iPhone Apps for mass market brands was akin to creating websites that only worked for Apple's Safari web browser. This is all set to change with the announcement at the WDC of a $99 iPhone.

Creating Apps is already a big business, but with an even bigger mainstream market beckoning there is going to be a wave of new apps launched into an already saturated market. Getting noticed on the App Store is tough. But like on Facebook with its Apps, the novelty wears off very quickly, and once shiny new apps are placed in the ignore-me-cemetery very quickly. My interest is in apps with utility that serve a life purpose, rather than those that are gimmicks.

The apps economy is going to be a very interesting market to study going forward, and will start to migrate from mostly a gimmick based market, to one that looks like a traditional software market. Expect to see Apps with marketing budgets that launch new versions with huge advertising campaigns and razzmatazz each year, a la Windows. All of this, however, is a huge pain for agencies, who are expected to specialise in multiple platforms, multiple categories, and have multiple skillsets, all under one roof at all times.

3 comments:

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Olivier said...
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Olivier said...

As every new advertising opportunity (online, mobile marketing, social network, etc.), mobile applications sound tempting for brands. When they see such a big growth, it’s hard to blame them for getting interested.
The only problem is, as for every other ‘big hit’, the app market is still yet to be fully understood. When we look back at the early stage of the usage of social networks, brands were trying to be there in any way, because it was ‘the next big thing’. Today, with a bit more hindsight, brands are trying to use social network in a much more effective and intelligent way (even if I’m not sure we have already cracked social networking for brands).
The same is happening for ATL: if you look back at the beginning of digital escalator panels in the Tube, they were used in a very boring way. Now, with a bit more experience, brands and agencies come up with more eye-catching and engaging propositions.
I think we are going in the same direction with apps. Brands were just trying to be there in the first place because it was cool to be there, but the more they/we understand the model, the better they/we’ll be at producing truly interesting content.