Mobile App Only! Why?

Exactly how many apps do you think a consumer can have on her mobile? And how many apps do you think a consumer really needs on a regular basis? Yes, I do understand that amount of data a brand can access if the user has installed its app is phenomenal and that a brand gets to provide more focused experience to users through apps. But are these reasons enough for you to force install your app to consumers? Are those installs sustainable?

So, mobile market is big in India and consumers are downloading apps but if we have to go by US, UK trend, more than 80% of the time spent by consumers on mobile apps is actually only on 5 apps, skewed heavily towards social or messaging apps. Agreed, it’s not Indian data but still I’m sure this figure of 5 apps can’t be 25 in India and the consumer affinity towards apps like Whatsapp or Facebook can’t be ignored even in Indian market.

A recent incident to share — I have 3 taxi apps installed on my phone. At a peak time, none of the taxis were available with either of these 3 service providers. Tried to browse the website of another cab service and instead of allowing to browse on mobile site, it insisted me to download the app to proceed further. To add to that, my prior experience with the service provider hadn't been that good — neither product experience with their web interface, nor service experience through their drivers. And then this force install of the app irked me a lot. Basics not in place but this urge to be technologically cooler? Finally didn't install their app and got a taxi within few minutes from one of those already installed apps. Not only this service provider lost one potential lead (I might have actually booked the taxi in urgency on their mobile site, if that app install wouldn't have been forced on me), it also ensured that even in case of emergency, I perhaps will avoid their site as much as possible.

Similar incident with one of my favorite e-commerce fashion brand that I used to love a lot. It was my default go-to option for any apparel purchase and it truly offered a very good experience on browsers like safari or chrome on my tab. But a recent move has changed it to again app only product on mobile. This site has an amazing presence in search engine but now for all my clicks through mobile search browsing, it’s forcing me to download the app. For this brand, I had installed the app earlier but later on uninstalled it, as I realized that while I could use the app to browse stuffs but I wasn't able to make a final purchase decision till I saw those products on a bigger screen. Maybe it’s just me but then for purchase like clothing, pictures matter and bigger screen helps. I still prefer their web interface over app.

This post is more of a rant as a consumer but even if I put my product or marketing hat on, I still do not believe in this new trend of forcing users to install the app for anything and everything. It’s a fact — a consumer can’t have all the apps on his device and not all brands need to build an app and make it mandatory to install it.

In case of services like taxi, I can still understand the logic of app usage based on my current location but then how many apps do you think I will keep on my phone for just booking a taxi? Do I really need to have 10 apps for same service on my mobile device? And if I allow multiple apps for multiple services that I use, then how do you think my experience with my mobile device would be?

I can still understand the logic of mobile only but why this drive to be app only?

I can still understand the logic of app only for some services but why an app for everything?

What as a consumer am I going to get by installing your app? And let’s discuss beyond one time discounts. We all know it’s not sustainable, neither for you as a company, nor for me as a consumer. If that’s your only differentiator, then you’re slowly building a habit in me to always expect discounts if I am buying through your app.

So, what instigates my app download behavior? More on that in my next post soon!

But for now, I’m wondering is it just me confused with this new app-only fetish? Am I missing out on something big? Will wait and watch and will surely download your app if you’re offering me something unique and something better on that app. But won’t download it just because you thought that an app is the coolest thing to add to your product portfolio and you've invested heavily in building that app.