Smartphone subscribers were expected to comprise 46% of the global population by the end of 2016 according to Forrester. The market opportunities will decrease quickly, but those who understand the trends will stay ahead.
2017 is not so much about new as it is about the increasing intimacy of our relationships with smartphones. This will only continue as mobile payments, wearables and AR/VR technology become more accessible and adopted.
But it’s not the trends that are important, it’s the core truth they are grounded in. The question to ask is, what do the trends tell you about how users are engaging with their phones and what they expect from it? Now on to the trends…
Trend 1: App stores will remain the hub of app discovery but…
Google is beginning to roll out Instant Apps to a limited number of users, opening an additional channel for app discovery. Instant Apps are the sample toothbrushes that you get from the dentist of the app world.
You don’t have to install the app to use it and when close it, the app is gone. Consequently, none of the device’s storage has to be sacrificed to test an app or for one that won’t be used often, e.g. booking app.
How will this bode for the future of app development, especially the small- and mid-cap apps built to drive income? On one hand, Android users will be able to find suggested apps to go with their Google search.
On the other hand, you will be investing a lot of resources in creating an app that isn’t truly able to be monetized just for the opportunity to entice the user to download the full version while still running the risk of losing them within 90 days.
Trend 2: Aggregation apps will become increasingly popular
How many blog posts do you think are produced each day? If you guessed around 2 million, you’d be right. That’s just blog posts and doesn’t take into account other forms of content such as infographics, videos and social media.
With brands entering the content fray and technology providing users the means to efficiently create all forms of content, user eyeballs will become evermore saturated with content. The solution? Aggregator apps.
These apps satisfy the two requirements of apps: to make users’ lives easier and to entertain them. And they are getting better at what is fast becoming a third requirement: other- and self-personalization.
Get these three requirements right and you might just provide enough incentive for the user to download and keep your app. How do you accomplish the third? Use data for the former and provide tools and features for users to accomplish the latter.
Trend 3: Churn baby churn
Churn will continue to be a problem for app developers as 80% of users continue to leave apps within the first 90 days. The margin for error is even tighter considering that the majority of in-app time is spent within a small number of apps.
How can app developers/publishers beat the average? The Localytics research referenced above indicates that rich push notifications and in-app messaging are essential to encouraging engagement…and they must be personalized.
See those couples and groups of friends physically occupying the same space but with their noses firmly placed in-screen? The digital world will not only enhance the real, but it will replace many aspects of it.
But users are still humans with human needs…we will expect the same from the digital world. In this case, we will expect that our devices and apps know us to such a degree that they will even be able to predict our wants and desires.
Trend 4: Your app is only as good as your data and segmentation
Enter data: 2.5 quintillion bytes of it are created. Daily. How many zeroes are in a quintillion? 18. Simply put: that’s a lot of data. Money may make the world go ‘round but data makes the money go ‘round.
Luckily for you, your app is the perfect data-capture solution: users willingly hand over data for access to your app. This provides you a unique opportunity to personalize the in-app experience.
The trick for you will be collecting data in a non-threatening way. Specifically, the permissions you request need to be relevant to the in-app experience. It’ll be the difference between your user feeling taken care of or interrogated…
…no one likes to feel interrogated. Back to the data; you’re getting a lot of it and you will need to segment it to make any sense of it. Only through effective segmentation will you be able to realistically provide a personalized experience.
Trend 5: Be one with the platform and use discretion
Remember those rich push notifications we covered in Trend 3; why are they more likely to encourage engagement than a textual notification? The technology. The technology we use shapes our expectations.
After all, if your users were accessing your app through a feature-phone, their expectations would be different. Let’s consider how to work with the current technology while drawing from what worked in the past.
The record-breaking pre-registration numbers for the Nokia 3310 are not just the result of nostalgia, they are the result of something else: design. Its elegance lies in its purpose-built simplicity, complexity produced anxiety.
Hint: it’s not complexity that users expect. Ask why rich push notifications engage users? Answer this and you’ll get to the core truth of the technology; then you can ask how you can implement it into other app facets?
So, what core truth are these app trends grounded in?
There’s no question that you have your work cut out for you; you face greater competition and other external pressures in capturing and maintaining users for your app. Luckily, the opportunities have never been greater.
Be aware of what is happening, yes; but dig deeper to understand where each year’s trends are grounded in. In fact, review the trends of the past few years and you’ll see that they are all grounded in one core truth.
So, what is the core truth of these 5 trends? The smartphone is a dynamic device that is more an executive assistant than phone. They become our extensions due to their knowledge of us and how they use that knowledge…to give us what we want before we even know it.