Is there an app for that? Or maybe not…

Today in an increasingly mobile world, more and more people have access to the Internet on various mobile devices. It’s no longer just the tech-savvy nerds how run around with smartphones but regular people. Today’s vast range of smartphones and tablets, especially within the android system, have made devices available in different styles and price ranges, and this is something I’m guessing have had a lot to do with the growth of the market.

As the market have gone more and more from stationary to mobile, and as many actors are already available online. The main web related question have gone from ”Do you have a website?” to ”Do you have an app?”.

When people think mobile and web, even though smartphones offer web browsers that can handle regular websites, they often think ”app”. Personally I don’t necessarily understand this crave for apps, neither from the producer nor the consumer side. Often of course apps are very useful and I have plenty of them on my phone, but when it’s a matter of information comparable to the regular information one puts on a website, it seems a little excessive to invest in an app.

As Adeven, an analytics company, stated in an article with Gigaom about 400 000 of the apps in the Apple App Store (The place you go to get apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad) never really get downloaded and have no rankings. This means that they are pretty much invisible to users of the Apple App Store and have a very hard time to get discovered. I myself know of cases where companies invested a lot of time and money in to an app that may have been downloaded between 0-100 times before discontinued.

There’s a lot of marketing going on from example Apple to encourage people to make and request apps. Apple of course later make money of these apps (if you’re paid for apps). They also often bring up the vast selection of apps their app store offer in their own marketing. Considering that about 400,000 of these apps are never really downloaded and that many of the remaining ones are only downloaded in very small amounts, it’s really not that impressive.

I can see an app store as a solution if you got a good idea for an app. Something that would work well in an app format and maybe something one would want to make money off. But today there are also a great variety of web solutions such as responsive design that work very well and that generally are a smaller investment.

One of the app stores main marketing point is simply that it is an app store and the consumers easily can find and browse apps there. With a main marketplace, that’s where consumers will turn when they look for apps. But the current selection of apps at the app stores, for instance the Apple App Store, with its hundreds of thousands of apps, make new apps drown and they are rarely discovered. Unless you have a known brand to work with from start, it’s hard to make your mark in today’s app stores.

People and organizations sometimes ask me if I can make them an app. Based on what they want the app to contain, I generally tell them it would be better to just make a mobile website or some sort a response of solution. They usually get quite nervous by the suggestion. They usually want an app that people can find in the app store, even if they don’t intend on charging for it. I tried to tell them that unless they have a proper app in mind, not just basic information, and if they don’t have a big name or brand to live off, there are not going to be that many people searching for the app in the app store.

People in general also do not want to download an app for every single thing or place and prefer not to clutter their devices with too many apps. But one got to give it to Apple and Google. Everyone talk about apps and never much about other mobile solutions. For instance responsive web is a great solution that also is easy to administrate, as it works on all devices with a web browser, and once you made a change or updated something, it’s updated all across.

Obviously web browsers need to be connected to the internet to connect to a website and through that get content, but a lot of the time apps do too. If it is a matter of heavy content I can see an app being a good solution as you then can store the data locally on the device, but many apps, especially the type that just offer some information about an organization or a company would function just as well in other ways.