Apps have become synonymous with mobile applications. Do you remember the symbian (read simpler) times, when we used a phone to make calls and sms was like your private pigeon messenger? 🙂 It is fascinating how technology has moved in the last few years. From new powerful touchscreen smartphones to a growing ecosystem of Apps. Apple, Google and Microsoft (well almost) are competing for this App-Universe dominance. Some apps go for million downloads and hit the news, some rise and vanish like a bubble. With the Apple App Store, Android Marketplace and Windows Marketplace for apps, which platforms work better and what makes a good app, more importantly what makes an app stick, what makes it tap-worthy enough to get millions of downloads. Sum of what we discussed at the 82nd Social Media Breakfast.
Paradigm shift started with the App Store
We agreed on one point that Apple invented the Apps game. With Apple developing the software as well as hardware for this new platform, it controlled the game unlike any other company and it has excelled at it. It created a whole new eco-system of mobile apps, which was later aggressively adopted by the likes of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Nokia and RIM promoting their own App stores or ‘App Marketplaces’, to the point that I think it has changed the game of selling software, with all software on Mac now available on the Mac App Store.
What makes an App Stick or ‘Tap’Worthy’
It must solve a problem
This I think should be the first step in any product development, not just for apps or software. In Mani Singh’s experience this is the numero uno of all strategies, it’s a guiding light. Take a look around, the products which are popular, which you care about, talk about are the ones which solve a problem. Now how you define a ‘problem’ is subjective 🙂
A phone goes where you go and is fast becoming a primary device for many. Apps which harness this mobility by offering localized content and services, provides a true mobile experience. I remember speaking with a friend in Toronto, who was going gaga over Siri (the new voice assistant App on iPhone 4S). He asked Siri ‘Where’s the nearest McDonald’s Siri came back with options, he asked how many calories in the BigMac, Siri was prompt with calorie count on the BigMac, decision taken.. No Big Mac today! Solves a problem + Localized . Mani Singh mentioned his experience when his car ran out of fuel on a highway in Punjab (India), out came the android with Google’s App: Asking Google Voice for nearest Toyota station and the options came up. Again Solves a problem + Localized. Brilliant isn’t it?
Must help kill boredom
Without doubt ‘Angry Birds’ was built on this strategy, and built well. Keeping it super simple and built around fun. I think just like writing comedy is a hard job, so is making a fun app which gets addictive. You can analyse to death the strategies and theories which make it work, but I think designing/developing fun apps is an art, hands down.
Do one task, really well
The mobile experience is built for micro-tasking. Not multi-tasking. The app must do one thing, and do it really well. In our discussion about user expectations from mobile apps, it’s about the simplicity of little options on the small screen. A classic example I read about developing an App to fly a plane: A programmer/developer will add as many powerful features as he can, with all sorts of buttons and meters, and all user is looking for two buttons: Fly a Plane and Land a Plane! That explains the essence of user expectation from an app.
In other discussions
Social Media Breakfast is not complete without the latest tech news: From the latest Caller IQ controversy, to the phenomenal and absurd rise of the Kolaveri song (11 million views on Youtube at time of writing this) and the exciting new possibilities with Augmented Reality, some cool new apps which build local+AR into one cool app.
Till next meetup 🙂