Not that we needed the reminder, but Adobe recently confirmed that app users are a lot more engaged than mobile web visitors.
The app’s dominance over the mobile website, at least as it stands today, looks to me like the digital equivalent of early Homo Sapiens’ advantage over other branches of our evolutionary tree. While both may continue to coexist for a long time, the app, with its power and performance lead over most mobile sites, enjoys a dominance that I expect will grow over time.
What does that mean for the future? Since ’tis the season for making predictions, and since I can safely guarantee, as Gregg Easterbrook does regularly, that my predictions will be wrong or your money back, let me suggest this future for an increasingly apps-dominated world.
I believe we are headed for what I’ll call the Appification of Things.
Just as touch screens led a generation of toddlers to try to change the channel by touching their TV screens, apps are poised to change our expectations of the non-apps universe. That means that the very things that make apps so appealing will spill their mobile banks and begin to influence content and services we experience beyond the app world.
In particular, I now expect that any company with which I willingly share personal information should use that information to give me a more customized and efficient experience. I don’t think of that as creepy or invasive. I see it as a fair exchange of value.
Here are some examples of the expectations we now have apps and how that expectation could (and should) spread to other, non-mobile domains:
- App feature: Regular, transparent feature and content updates.
- Appification effect: The beginning of the end of one-off purchases of all serial content. If I buy a digital copy of a movie, I want that movie to update itself to give me new features, such as cast commentary and extended versions. I bought a book on marketing metrics last year for my Kindle Fire; the publisher should offer me new chapters that include the latest insights on social media and mobile marketing analytics. I don’t object to paying for these new updates, but I don’t want to have to buy an all-new version of the book or movie just to acquire what may amount to marginal but important content.
- App feature: Built for “snackable” moments, typically bursts of five to 15 minutes at a time, apps use customer information to personalize their content and refine the user interface to grab you right away. That means knowing what to deprecate or to push deeper into the app, because with such little time with a user, a publisher can’t push everything.
- Appification effect: The expectation that more companies will get smarter about prioritizing the most important parts of their offering and deliver it accordingly. At my bank, I still get mostly the same ATM interface I’ve had for years. It always gives me the same options, including ones I’ve never used. In the app world and real world alike, that’s a bad setup. The bank knows my preferences. Why not improve my experience with them?
- App feature: Able to make connections to other services that complement the experience. When I buy something with an app, it knows my credit card information. When I post an update using my WordPress app for Windows Phone, it knows to share that update via my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
- Appification effect: Brick and mortar stores that know who you are and make shopping easier as a result. My family and I just returned from Disney World, where we wore MagicBands all over the park. These interactive bracelets became the keys to our hotel room, our tickets to each park, and our currency for buying everything. In the non-Disney universe, loyalty programs are ideally positioned to do many of these things, too. If I have a loyalty card to a grocery store, I shouldn’t have to swipe my credit card with every purchase. I should be able to see more than just my total aggregate savings for the shopping trip and year, which leads me to my final point.
- App feature: Capturing a user’s known preferences to predict and expose new things they would like. When I listen to Pandora, not only do I get a steady diet of my favorite tracks; I also hear new stuff, some of which I’ve actually bought because Pandora rightly predicted I’d really like it.
- Appification effect: Algorithms that extend intelligent recommendations to brick and mortar stores. I’d love food and recipe suggestions based on the preferences of shoppers like me, as well as ways to get more value from my grocery visits. Do that, and I’d become a more loyal shopper.
These are just a few of the ways I’d like to see my non-mobile life adopt aspects of the app world I now live in. If you could impose a New Year’s resolution on non-mobile businesses to change in mobile-like ways, what would you prescribe?