Taking cue from what my friend Davide Senatore wrote in a recent Facebook post, I want to share my perspective of mobile apps.
Even though I wrote a book on mobile architecture and mobile development jumpstart (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PhoneGap) I haven’t done much work with mobile apps in the past year or so. I spent a couple of years a way back trying to make sense of the patterns and now I’m mostly acting as an advisor to some companies needing to build a mobile presence and elaborate a mobile strategy. My iOS developer account expired a few weeks ago and so it was for the Windows Phone account. Probably, both will be back some time soon but for the time being that’s it.
Two years ago I made the most significant experience with mobile apps. Two years ago the customer was really excited to have a few mobile apps to support the event. Last year the same customer kind of took it for granted and just looked for paying the update as little as possible; possibly nothing. Every business has an app that, like web sites of fifteen years ago around the time of the Internet bubble, just do nothing serious.
People are led to think that most apps are just crap put there because of a trend.
As I see it, this means that the mobile bubble is approaching fast if not here already. Much like the Internet bubble didn’t kill the Internet, the mobile bubble won’t certainly kill the mobile. It will just put a few key things in the right business-oriented perspective and get rid of anything else.
Mobile apps will die soon and some of them will resuscitate later under another perspective.
Smoke-mirror apps created to let the world know ‘hey we have an app; download it to get a discount’ are all gone. Consumer apps are for the most part gone. Time-sensitive apps bound to events are for the most part gone.
What remains? Well, all of them.
Provided that the apps serve a specific purpose (WhatsApp, Twitter, Uber, Hailo, OneNote, games, a few personal utils apps, …) or are the frontend of some significant enterprise system.
Don’t waste your time trying to create the next big app at all costs. Don’t expect that just any idea for an app (even good/great ideas) will make it a success or change the way people live and work. Don’t expect people will get it and rate it honestly. The true and sure frontier of mobile is where there’s a promising business case. But in this case the mobile app is merely the presentation layer.