Why consumer apps are evolving, not dying – and what brands should do about it

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By Paul Jarrett, MD, Sonin

Since the launch of the App Store back in 2008, apps have evolved from simple novelties to intelligent tools that brands use to reach and engage their customers. Yet, despite 71% of marketers now considering mobile as critical to hitting their targets, rumours continue to circulate claiming that we’re on the brink of a ‘post-app era’, or an ‘app-ocalypse’.

What we’re currently experiencing isn’t the death of apps – far from it – but rather the evolution of apps. As new technology becomes available on the consumer market and user behaviour with mobile changes, apps are simply acclimatising to these cultural shifts. Much like they’ve been doing from 2008, to the present day.

User behaviour

As the amount of smart technology available increases, so does user expectations. We’re living in a fast paced, task-orientated society where individuals rely on technology (including apps, wearables and even televisions) to carry out tasks quicker and with minimal effort. An app that doesn’t adhere to this rule will struggle to make an impact in the consumer market. Using Netflix as an example, users don’t even need to search for their favourite shows anymore, they’re already listed out for them when they log in. Better still, they don’t even need to press play to watch another episode.

Your users wish to continue using apps, they just don’t want to work hard for them. This means that brands need to cater to this and think of new methods of giving their consumers what they want, when they want it. Think one-click checkouts, voice recognition logins and auto-responses to queries. These features are now no longer gadgets, they’re pro-active tools that are essential to mobile app engagement.

To put it simply, mobile users want smarter apps that provide a more seamless experience, and are successful in their ability to save valuable time. So how can brands ensure this?

New technology

New technology is playing its role in the evolution of the mobile app, and catering to increasing user demands. Although apps aren’t dying, there’s no doubt that they’re evolving to appeal more to the modern day consumer. For example:

Chatbots and AI: With over 60% of consumers demanding that businesses be contactable on a 24/7 basis, mobile apps are no longer platforms to simply browse goods and make purchases. Thanks to chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) software, apps are now platforms where brands can establish longer, more stablished relationships with their customers, offering a truly bespoke service.

Twitter and Facebook have also incorporated chatbot technology into their messaging platforms, making brands accessible to consumers whatever the need. Subsequently, leading organisations from the banking, transport, taxi, hospitality and beauty sectors are feeling the benefits.

Instant apps: Google has officially begun testing Android Instant Apps, which provides consumers with instant access to app content on the web in addition to the traditional download. For marketers this brings many benefits, including increased app visibility on the web in addition to the Google Play Store. With apps soon to be made accessible to consumers on even more platforms, this ultimately contradicts and challenges the notion of the ‘post-app era’ that we’re currently hearing.

Interactive notifications: Interactive notifications are ensuring that consumers are more app engaged than ever before, another noticeable trait of the app evolution. Previously, traditional push notifications only alerted users of certain information, such as invitations, news stories and social media activity. Now, interactive notifications allow users to control apps straight from their home screen, tying in with their fast paced schedules.

Planning ahead

As apps will need to evolve to meet the ever changing needs of consumers, it’s important that all brands take action now. We’re currently in an exciting transition period, but with new waves of technology emerging and expectations growing, organisations need to alter their approach to app development to remain at the forefront of their respective industries.

Editor’s note: To find out how to approach future app development and challenge the ‘app-oclaypse’ theory, Sonin is putting together an exclusive webinar on February 22 at 1400 GMT. Find out more here.

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