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May 03, 2017

Mobile Apps Aren't Dead: They're Shapeshifting

By Special Guest
Patrick Amori, Mobile Expert and Founder of Mobile Evolution Marketing

Since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, the rise of mobile technology and applications has resulted in the market becoming more mainstream and more saturated. Recently, discussions within this space have focused on whether the “death” of the mobile app is inevitable. Those involved in this discussion point to user fatigue, the decline in app downloads and the oversaturation of the mobile app space as markers of the industry’s doom. However, mobile apps are not poised on the edge of the grave, but rather on the edge of a transformation.

The mobile app industry today

It is true that mobile app usage is experiencing an overall decline. We find that less than 4 percent of all apps in the App Store get more than 1,000 downloads and, according to a recent report from eMarketer, the number of apps used on smartphones each month has dropped from an average of 21 apps per month in 2016 to 20 per month in 2017.

This number is decreasing because of the sheer volume of apps being pushed into the market. Apps are being hastily designed and posted in the App Store without consideration for user experience or long term growth, and they quickly lose user interest or become obsolete. These are the “dying” apps reflected in industry data.

Seventy percent of the time spent on mobile devices is still spent in apps, so there are more opportunities for apps now than ever before. However, gaining a competitive advantage, engaging with users and creating apps that are relevant to their lives presents a greater challenge.

The future of mobile apps

Whilst hundreds of apps “die” every day, the app market is still very much alive. New and old apps simply have to adapt to changing consumer needs and evolving mobile technology in order to succeed.

In the near future, simplicity will be a central design feature in mobile apps. More and more developers are beginning to build mobile platforms that allow users to complete a range of tasks within a single app. One such example is the Bank of America app, which simplifies the banking process by allowing users to make mobile deposits, transfer funds and pay bills with one click. Airbnb has also started consolidating its in-app services by adding a Trips feature, which gives users the options to book unique local activities alongside their accommodation. There’s no need to transfer between different applications when multiple functions can be condensed into and accessed from one place.

Partnerships are another important aspect of the mobile app’s future. Apps will increasingly rely on partnerships to increase user activation in exchange for in-app benefits. We can see this trend in recent partnerships like that between Uber and Chase’s “Chase Liquid” service, which encouraged consumers to sign-up for a new Uber account, link it to their Chase bank card and receive a 50 percent discount on their first two Uber rides.

Simplicity and partnerships may not be enough though to save the new mobile apps pouring into the market. Harnessing the power and engagement of powerful individuals and organizations, or “influencers,” will be the next big trend in mobile. Influencers are already beginning to exhaust the limits of traditional social media – for example, last year YouTube made headlines when it allegedly refused to pay some of its biggest stars for their videos – and thus need new ways to share content and actively engage with their fans. These influencers will gradually shift away from social media and start using their own branded mobile apps to communicate with fans, share new content and sell their merchandise.

White label app developer FanHero is a perfect example of a company leading the evolution of the influencer app market. With its combination of personalized apps, state of the art monetization platform, deep user analytics and custom growth team to support every app launch, FanHero helps influencers break free from the traditional social media model. Its apps allow influencers to create fully branded apps that help engage with 100 percent of their fans (versus a minute fraction like social media), which leads to increased fan touch points and monetization opportunities, thus encouraging influencers to continue expanding the apps.

Also, as the mobile app evolved we went from downloads being the main KPI, to installs and to finally registered users. Now we are at the point where the registered users are no longer enough. Engagement, user experience and ultimately monetization is the name of the game now; outdated apps will continue “dying” to make way for better, simpler and stronger apps that successfully connect with and monetize user communities.

About the Author

Patrick Amori founded Mobile Evolution Marketing in 2014. He works as a mobile viral marketing strategy consultant, growth hacking expert, and user acquisition and revenue strategy consultant for Fortune 500 companies and startups. In his current role, Patrick is responsible for developing and executing high-impact ASO strategies, viral marketing campaigns and app optimization techniques to improve user base and mobile revenue for 50+ app startups.

Edited by Alicia Young

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