The Post App World — Why Apps Will Die.

Back in the day when you wanted to contact to someone, you called them, our decision architecture was simple, they had a phone number, you called it.

Around 2002 ( in the UK) texting became popular.

You now faced two wildly different options, perfect for different needs. It was not hard. Calls for conversations, SMS for quick information.

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In 2015, not only do we face a many more different ways to communicate (email, comment on social media, comment on an image, comment on a forum, text, call etc ) but each of these specific different channels now offer many identical options. If you want to send someone a message, for some people, our screen now looks like this. Has there ever been a more stupid way to communicate?

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How is it that in 2015 we need to decide how to communicate and then search for the person? Or try to remember what platform they are on before opening an app.

This is clearly aligned to the interest of the app makers, but not users.

Clearly we need some sort of aggregation layer, where we decide who we want to speak to, then decide the how after. The Microsoft Windows phone had a People Hub to do just this, communication arranged around people with the pipes where they belong, as a background.

It’s not just communication.


This is the current screen for what is widely considered to be the most complete public transportation app, Roadify.

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Again, here I need to decide the means to get somewhere, not the destination.

I don’t know about you but I don’t wake up with a huge urge to use the LIRR, it’s not on my bucket list to use the NJ Bus System, we’ve arranged everything around the pipe, not the user.

This is how apps force us to navigate the world. This needs to change.

And now thanks to digitization, and Tim Cook’s dumb comment that the future of TV is apps, it’s happening to TV shows too.

This is my iPad mini that I use to watch most TV, I’ve bypassed the STB and us this to throw internet TV onto my 60 Inch TV at home.

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Once again it’s no use wanting to watch Chosen or the West Wing or Flight of the Concords, I have to navigate via a totally unnatural architecture of the pipe. I’ve got to decide on a provider, then the show.

Apps for TV are totally arbitary, our relationship is with the show, not the curator, we don’t try to listen to music by selecting the record label first, so why would this artificial structure make sense for TV?

Our current structure is designed entirely around providers, not around people .

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

If I want to watch TV on the TV itself, I have to navigate via false choices like Premium or Free, or VOD or Live, I don’t care, my relationship is with content, not your taxonomy.

If I want to find a play to watch, I need to visit the websites for 100 small theatres in NYC and then open a new account to buy a ticket.

If I want to listen to Music, I need to pick Spotify, or Apple iTunes or IHeart Radio or a thousand other companies, not the track itself.

If I want food I need to select Maple, or GrubHub, or Seamless, or Postmates and then the Restaurant. How about selecting at a dish level?

Maybe my interest in news is less about the New York Times, and more about Technology or the writings of Thomas Friedman.

And it’s how Facebook Instant, Apple News and Twitter have aggregated News where the answer lies.

The solutions.

My next blog post will take it from here, it’s easy to criticize apps, but it’s harder to explain the future ahead and how we’ll navigate content in the future.

We once worked with operating systems, but programs replaced them as the primary place we performed tasks, we’d work in MS Word or Excel, increasingly programs shift into the background and into the cloud and Apps become the new program. When you visit the Microsoft envisioning center you get a glimpse into a world beyond this, where Apps themselves move to the background, information at the right time and the right place fills a frame, the app and the pipe become irrelevant, it’s just what you need to know.

We’re developing the architecture now, we a world of deeplinked apps, of the internet of apps, and smarter, thinner websites. The technology and structure is here, but the monetization has yet to be sorted. Once it is, I see the future with three new architectures. These will be explored in my next post.

1) Aggregation.

How can voice and predictive technology bubble up the right information and present itself to us in a thin specific layer.

2) Maps.

Maps could be a new portal as a way to get around, find places to go, book reservations, buy tickets etc.

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3) People

IM looks set to become another key way to navigate the new world. Not just communication but buying things, sharing locations, ordering taxis. But we need to enter this world via a people hub, not an app.

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To find out more, see my follow up post.

Written by

Contributor to The Guardian,TechCrunch, Inc, Wharton, Ad Age, World Economic Forum,Times, New York Times, blah , etc EVP Strategy and Innovation at ZenithMedia

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