The Future of Apps — Peak App

For a much of the last 7 years there has been a lot of talk about apps, about how they are the future of the internet, the pinnacle of technological interface & user experience. Rhetoric about how rather than learning to build websites, what matters is how to build apps.

Peak-App’ has happened, the glory days have passed where everyone has pages and pages of apps on their iphone, people are reluctant to let surplus apps take up space on their phone and are even more reluctant to spend money on apps. So what does this mean for the way we actually use apps vs. the way we thought they would monopolise our attention and why has this difference happened?

Everyone has a few apps they like to use a lot and a few more they like to use rarely, on my phone I only use apps which i’m sure 95% of you also use, i have no ‘unique’ or ‘special’ apps which I swear by. The apps I use like Instagram and Airbnb have undergone impressive expansions recently and these expansions serve as explanations for why the useful app market is so stagnant and why it will continue to stagnate, with service apps dominating departments on your phone — one for work, one for travel, one for social media, one for transport.

Certain apps monopolising attention and features reduce the desire or need for other apps. Instagram ‘Stories’ new feature or Airbnb ‘Trips’ update take attention and need away from competitor apps, see the below video for a summary of Airbnb’s impressive update:

No longer do you need a ‘car hire’ app or a ‘meet new people’ apps, this is all provided under the mothership Airbnb app which encompasses all of your travelling needs, similarly Instagram ‘stories’ seeks to cover a greater portion of your social media needs, to the detriment of snapchat. Attention is the most important word for any marketer right now (soon to be followed by experience).

More and more, the characteristic that will dictate the impending success of a company is their current following — if the company has an audience to promote a new feature to it stands them in infinitely better stead than a company offering that same new feature on a standalone app, Airbnb and Instagram are very aware of this. As such it is important for example for hire car companies to understand this and rather than building their own app they should instead focus on being the company chosen to partner with Airbnb.

We will see a similar situation in the growing field of Influencer marketing where there is a white space for a company to act as a broker between brands and influencers to set up deals - the company that fills this space will be a marketing company which already possesses a massive directory of both brands and publishers rather than a company set up with the intention of signing up brand and publishers for the new endeavour.

Are monopolies good? No. As users would we like a choice of services? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it? No