The mobile phone apps market is booming and is expected to go into overdrive when Apple’s new iPad device launches next month. For most corporate marketers apps are probably nothing more than a curiosity or a convenience if they have app-friendly devices.
But maybe businesses should start thinking about apps a little more strategically as part of their internet marketing strategy.
Research firm Gartner expects that cellphones will be the most common device used for browsing the web by 2013. They predict the number of browser-equipped phones to exceed 1.83 billion, compared to 1.78 billion old fashioned computers in use within 3 years.
Morgan Stanley estimates that the value of the mobile internet market will grow from $US48 billion last year to $US107 billion in 2013.
Smartphone users already appreciate the ease and convenience of apps. They provide a much more satisfactory online experience than the phone browser. For a simple example of the difference take the time to view this site on your phone then access it through our fairly basic iPhone app.
There are now more than 140,000 apps available at Apple’s App Store. The site recently passed 3 billion downloads. Google’s Android, Nokia’s Ovi and Research in Motion’s App World have all launched in order to move into this booming market, while Microsoft has announced plans for a Windows Phone.
Apps are increasingly becoming the online launching point for many people. What would you rather do:
- access your phone browser to search Google or just open the Google app?
- access your phone browser to search Wikipedia or just open the Wikipanion app?
- access your phone browser to access Twitter or just open the Tweetie app?
- access your phone browser to read your favourite blogs or just open their one-button apps?
The audience for apps is only expected to grow as more smartphones enter the market and devices such as the iPad launch. Many pundits predict the iPad will be a cross-over device that introduces previously non-tech oriented users online via a more user-friendly environment. And how will they access their favourite sites and online resources? Via apps.
In fact, apps are becoming the new web “bookmarks” for quickly accessing favourites and its not hard to argue that we may be seeing a transition from the web-browsing age to the app age.
Which of course means that marketers have another touchpoint to consider. Expecting the rapidly growing brigade of mobile users to access your clunky website on their smartphone is not good enough. If its not a user-friendly experience with proper mobile formatting you’ll lose them.
But if you can provide a useful, simple app then your brand has a strong advantage over competitors. Think about it. If somebody is willing to download your app they’re more likely to revisit it on a regular basis. If the app succeeds in engaging the users they it can become a valuable marketing tool, immersing users in your brand or returning regularly for your information. They are much less likely to do this via a mobile browser.
Whats-more, your app / brand is displayed on the users “desktop” every day. Most marketers would kill for that sort of brand placement. In-your-face-every-day.
This isn’t the future, its happening now. Smart marketers are offering their visitors multiple touchpoints: Twitter, Facebook groups, RSS… and now apps. If your organisation has something valuable to say then you need to allow people to access that information – anywhere.
The problem is, most marketers are still coming to grips with creating a website that is computer-user-friendly, let alone mobile friendly. Most marketers are still not providing a regular flow of useful and engaging information. Those marketers are going to be left behind in the new mobile apps world.
I’m interested in your thoughts on this: Do you see apps becoming an important part of modern marketing? Lets discuss.