The Evolution of the Mobile App Landscape
A person’s smartphone is, in some ways, an extension of his or her personality. Through mobile apps, a smartphone is the way someone communicates with friends, shops, plays, works, learns, remembers and more. Most people have their smartphones with them wherever they go.
The average person adds 2.5 new apps every month. According to Inside Facebook, download rates have increased dramatically since 2008, when there were only “about 10 apps downloaded for every iPhone/iPod touch. Two years later the rate was more than five times higher.”
App customers aren’t the only ones who have changed drastically in the past few years. Mobile apps themselves have undergone enormous changes, and will continue do to so in the coming months and years.
More smartphones. More apps.
Although BlackBerry took home the win for the first smartphone – on sale in 2002, Apple’s iPhone brought us the ancestors of the apps we all know and love today. In 2007, Apple released the first ever iPhone with default apps including Maps, Photos, Messages and Weather.
However, by the middle of the next year, Apple launched their app store with hundreds of apps available for download. Google followed suit in October with the “Android Market” (later renamed Google Play). That same month, HTC released the first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream.
By January of 2011, more than 10 billion apps had been downloaded by smartphone and tablet users and come December, developers had created 1 million unique apps. These apps ranged from popular smartphone games like Angry Birds to the organizational app Evernote.
Brands are creating their own branded apps and selling them on Apple and Google’s app stores. Often these apps were value-added perks for existing customers to take of extra, convenient features. For instance, Verizon FiOS offers its fiber-optic TV customers apps to remotely control their DVR settings and stream content.
In the United States, people spend 49% of mobile app usage playing games. Social networking comes in second with 30%. News and entertainment make up less than 20% of mobile app usage throughout the day. The amount of time spent on mobile continues to increase as apps evolve and allow us to do more with our mobile devices.
Your apps and you.
Some of the most basic apps we use every day have all but replaced more traditional tools people utilized the days of smartphones.
Think about it. When you want to check the weather, do you turn to the local news? Or do you reach for your smartphone and open a weather app? Apps don’t just take care of your daily weather knowledge needs. There are other apps that have taken the place of tasks that, in the past, required more tools, travel and time to complete.
For example, in the past, banking required a trip to the bank complete with deposit slips, check book and even your best Sunday clothes, in some cases. Gas, time and, frankly, paper were wasted during the decades before mobile banking was developed.
Now, with banking apps, customers can access their accounts, deposit checks, make payments and perform other transactions without leaving the house. Or changing out of their pajamas.
Apps themselves continue to undergo dramatic change and development.
If you jumped on the app bandwagon right at the beginning, you may have noticed the subtle development of app design throughout the last few years. Many apps utilized a simple list or icon system to display features.
Now, apps are able to incorporate high-quality photos and mobility throughout the app. Instead of just scrolling from top to bottom or clicking on one-destination icons, the Facebook app incorporates a more interactive user experience with a “swipe-over menu to the side for accessing your profile, News Feed, events, etc. instead of that home screen grid.”
These are just a few examples of the touch-friendly design techniques app developers have incorporated in their apps to optimize the mobile experience. New and updated apps are increasingly moving toward touch controls like gestures and swipes.
The mobile app landscape will only continue to evolve.
TechCrunch explains that experts predict that, by 2016, 44 billion apps will have been downloaded and “app-to-person messaging should overtake text messaging.”
According to Embience.com, mobile apps are “expected to be a $38 billion market by 2015.” These apps will be personalized, optimized for local use and will offer social interaction to customer. App developers are coming up with new application ideas every day to provide more services and usability to customers all over the world.
Established brands and brand-new startups are bdoth vying for the smartphone space, which is essentially a blank canvas for the next big thing in the app world.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Phillips is a freelance writer with a focus on marketing. She can be found typing away on her laptop in Philadelphia, PA. Elizabeth welcomes your feedback via email.