When Apple unveiled its app store in 2008 with the slogan “There’s an app for that”, it was the beginning of a new digital revolution. While Apple was not the first to come up with idea of an independent app on a mobile phone they sure paved the way for the app industry to take off. Companies like Google and Windows quickly adapted to the app store trend and the app industry was booming. Developers were churning away new apps and making big profits. But recent trends show that the app industry is not doing well like it used to. Studies show that there is a decrease in the percentage of users installing apps and the number of times a certain app is used before it is uninstalled.
So what happened?
Although a large number of apps exist, only a few apps are being downloaded and used consistently. The majority of apps that get attention are the traditional messaging apps followed by productivity apps. There is also an emergence of users not willing to commit to or pay for an app. Due to the large availability of good quality free apps in the market, consumers have come to expect much more from apps that require them to pay. This loss of interest in paid apps has also led to a decrease of interest from investors. All of these factors has led to a slowdown in the app development industry.
How to solve this?
Since consumers are not willing to commit to an app – time and money wise, then an app company must resort to different methods to increase app commitment and downloads.
Google’s Firebase App Indexing and Deep linking offers some relief. It allows users to view content from Google search results by launching it through an app that is already installed. If the app is not installed then the user is made aware of the corresponding app and then they can choose to install it or not. This aims at increasing time spent by the user on apps and also the download rates.
Unlike Google’s app promotion through search results, Apple does not rely on showcasing new apps through search results instead it displays apps that are already installed in web results where deep linking is used to increase user engagement. This is because Apple prioritizes user experience rather than ads and promotion. App promotion is mainly done through Spotlight searches. Apple Spotlight Search aims at increasing iOS app engagement by executing searches using Apple Search through Spotlight or Siri. This allows Apple to conduct Apple Searches without Google searches getting in the way.
With around 1.6 Billion users, Facebook is turning out to be an ideal place to advertise products. To cater to this need, Face has launched App links to link apps like a webpage. The wide user base allows companies and developers to advertise and engage their products to a larger audience and that too without taking up user time and download space.
Developing apps that behave like web pages are also on the table. Google has unveiled a technology called “App Streaming”. So instead of downloading and installing apps, it will be possible to stream parts of an app that the user wants. Apple also has rolled out ODR or On Demand Resources where only the core application is downloaded and the rest of the application can be downloaded “on demand”.
The Future of Apps
It is true that the sales of apps are not what they used to be but with innovative technology and progressive methods like integrating webpages and apps, more users can be engaged and the sales of apps can go up in the coming years.