23
Jun
10

Mobile Apps: Beware of Standing Still

“There’s an App for that”

There can be no doubt that Apple has changed the way we use the web on the go. Since opening in 2008 over ‘200,000 ways to make your iPhone even better’ have been added to the App Store. If you visit the Android Mobile Market you’ll find more than 25,000 apps to enjoy, whilst Blackberry’s App World offers 5,000. It’s hard to keep an accurate track on the total number of apps available across the platforms, but one thing is for sure: We are surrounded by mobile apps.

Retailers, game designers, social networks and publishers have all pushed to get their own mobile application into the App Store. Now they are constantly pushing to get their apps into the top spot and receive positive user feedback. This multitude of apps fascinates users and keeps blogs full of “Ten of the best mobile apps” list. A company recently made news when they launched an auxiliary app that taught users how to use their main ‘killer app’.

In the face of this app frenzy, it’s good to keep in mind that some apps have longer lifespans than others – and this lifespan usually correlates to how useful they are in the long-term. While trying to break the score of ‘Robot Unicorn Attack’ reaches its saturation point very quickly, an application that lets you read content from your favourite newspaper, or that makes navigating social media much easier, offers a longer and more valuable user experience.

Many of us will have downloaded and accumulated too many apps – attracted by what’s new and what’s trending. After a certain point we realise that they take up too much space on our phones, and the less engaging apps end up in our trash folders. It might be time to consider the use of our beloved mobile apps.

Mobile search company Taptu have released a report arguing that the future will belong to mobile browser optimised sites, not apps. They make a very good argument. The proliferation of new smartphone models, different operating systems (Symbian, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, Blackberry OS…), and tablet devices means that optimised sites that work across platforms will have a larger audience than a platform specific application. Current estimates put web optimised sites at about 326,000 – and this number is likely to increase with more companies moving to a mobile-web app strategy.

Mobile sites can be optimised to work well on most devices – they are also less expensive to develop, and have the structural advantage of being constantly updateable, without having to rely on a user to download an update. A mobile website makes economic sense.

That’s not to say that mobile apps will die out – we think their best days still lie ahead. But for a lot of companies and brands, a mobile website will be cheaper to develop and provide a better return on investment in the long run. We’re happy to offer our thoughts on your mobile app or web dilemma – give us a call (it’s the green app with the phone symbol).

Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London.

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