In 2009, 2010, 2011, and nearly every year since, so-called “experts” have claimed that mobile apps are dying off and some other form of technology will soon render these antiquated systems useless. But here we are, in 2017, and the mobile app market is more alive than ever. It’s time to step away from the ledge and recognize that this industry is sustainable.
4 Reasons Mobile Apps Are Here to Stay
Few modern technologies and content mediums are discussed with such trepidation as mobile apps. You can literally find thousands of articles from micro-bloggers, business owners, and respected tech experts discussing the “inevitable demise” of apps over the years.
This article from Christopher Mims of MIT Technology Review is the perfect example. In the article, which was penned in 2011, Mims explains his theory on why mobile apps will soon be dead. (His belief was that browser-based apps, such as the ones being pushed by Google, would soon replace device-based applications.) But here we are, six years later, and mobile apps are still thriving.
You could pick out any number of articles from any number of industry experts and you’d see dozens of unique theories pushed as to why mobile apps have no place in the future. But maybe it’s time to stop predicting demise and start recognizing apps for what they are: powerful, sustainable, and functional tools that customers enjoy.
Here are a few specific reasons why mobile apps are here to stay:
1. Users are Downloading by the Droves
One of the common myths app detractors like to propagate is the idea that people don’t download apps anymore. And while statistics like downloads per month (per user) have declined over the last five years, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that total downloads are higher than ever.
According to research from App Annie, global app downloads surpassed 90 billion across iOS and Google Play in 2016. That’s a 15 percent annual growth! Overall, the amount of time users spent inside of apps increased by 150 billion hours, reaching 900 billion total hours for the year. These numbers don’t indicate decay.
2. Mobile Isn’t Going Anywhere
Next time someone tries to talk to you about how mobile apps are about to disappear, ask them about mobile devices and what sort of future they see there. The reality is that mobile is both the present and the future. More than 2 billion people are currently using smartphones – a number that’s expected to grow to 2.5 billion by as early as next year.
As long as there are mobile devices, there will have to be a method for reaching these users. It’s a bit of a stretch to assume that mobile apps will disappear soon when nothing has risen to serve as a replacement. Mims discussed browser-based apps in 2011 – something that’s still being heavily discussed today – but no traction has been made in six-plus years. What makes you think that something will change?
3. Apps Engage
It’s no secret that website functionality has improved across the board over the past few years. Not only are the vast majority of websites now responsive, but many do a better job of prioritizing user experience than they did in the past. However, websites still don’t hold a candle to apps in terms of engagement.
Mobile apps are designed around a very specific focus. They offer something of value and are designed, from the start, with the user in mind. This sort of engagement is attractive to the end user and is what keeps them coming back for more.
4. Apps are Immediate
Being able to quickly and efficiently disseminate information to customers is something businesses have long struggled with. Phone calls are seen as obtrusive and often go ignored. Email may not be checked for hours. SMS legally requires you to get individual customers to opt-in. Apps, on the other hand, are simple and immediate.
One of the best parts about mobile apps is that businesses can push out information directly to a user’s mobile device in a manner that’s quick and convenient for all parties involved. In a world where immediacy is prioritized above all else, it’s hard to imagine apps becoming totally obsolete anytime soon. In fact, it could be argued that there’s still a lot of untapped potential.
Don’t Divest Quite Yet
It’s impossible to ignore the rise of artificial intelligence and chatbots, but it would be foolish to divest from mobile apps at this point. They have mass appeal and functionality, indicating there’s still a bright future ahead.
The real question is how will mobile apps evolve over the next three, five, and ten years? Nobody’s disputing the fact that they’ll change – just that they still have value. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens in the coming years, especially as mobile device hardware changes with the times.