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Amped for apps?

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New survey says: Not really

Just before Christmas, I was sitting around with a few friends discussing technology. Talk turned to smartphones and tablets.

“It’s all about the apps,” someone said.

But a recent survey says it’s all about websites and mobile sites.

There’s an app for that, but right now only 4% of smartphone/tablet users are using branded apps

Smartphone and tablet apps are not consumers’ preferred channel for browsing or shopping:

• Just 4 per cent of connected consumers like to use branded apps, whereas 87 per cent prefer to use websites and mobile sites

• 60 per cent choose to shop via digital or print catalogs

Connected consumers’ tablet use and spending activity is on the rise:

• In the 2011 holiday season, 87 per cent of tablet owners did their holiday shopping using their tablets, spending $325 on average

In addition, 49 per cent expect to shop more on their tablet over the next year.

So, while people are using smartphones and tablets and plan to use them more, they’re not engaging with branded apps much, says a Zmags survey.

You can find the survey here.

Consider: Apps need to be downloaded.

While it may be fun to poke around and see what kind of apps are out there, will the extra effort required to use branded apps turn out worthwhile in the long-term?

In “App(le) fatigue: It’s not just users — many businesses aren’t keen on a big cut for Apple” and in “Three digital considerations for the year(s) to come” I blogged about the app phenomenon and HTML5, which might turn out to be the biggest challenge to apps over the long-term.

The need for foresight

Kodak’s decline has hit the news hard recently. Without doubt, companies have to be flexible in today’s business environment. They need to forecast and invest in what’s coming.

While branded apps seemed to be everywhere in 2011, people weren’t using them as much as most of us thought or were led to believe according to the study.

Companies are using apps as vehicles for marketing, awareness raising, instruments for monetizing digital media or channels for movie and music sales.  Developers are increasingly developing apps for Android.

Still, will apps remain a peripheral channel if people begin to suffer “app fatigue”, or will apps  start to close ground on websites and mobile sites?

The rise of HTML5

Meanwhile, HTML5 is raging ahead:

  • 58 per cent of regional web developers are using HTML5 in the Asia Pacific region
  • 43 per cent in the U.S.
  • 39 per cent in Europe, Africa and the Middle East

Some other considerations regarding “app mania”:

  • Will efforts to encourage users to download apps be cost-effective in the future?
  • Could these same efforts be better-used elsewhere?
  • The genius of HTML5  is it arms developers with a way to create browser-based sites. These sites store data locally if a mobile device loses its connection. The device still gets real-time data and creates rich mobile sites that download faster.
  • Developers can also create mobile websites that look and act very much like an app using HTML5. Will this make apps redundant?
  • Will “apps” only be called apps in the future and actually be HTML5-based websites or mobile sites?
  • What will the focus for apps be in the short-term, and how will that affect long-term marketing and communications strategy?

We need more research on the app environment while strategic business decisions need to take into account that other technology may replace apps.

Apple is one in a long list of companies proving technology never sleeps.

And, as ever, when it comes to app mania, the threat of HTML5 is growing. Many won’t know what they’re calling an “app” isn’t really an app but HTML5-based.

According to results on how consumers prefer to browse and shop (using websites and mobile sites), traditional apps may experience some challenging times.

Thought leaders would do well to stay on top of the HTML5 phenomenon.

Related:

Apps: If you build it, they might not come

Infographic: A history of HTML5

 

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Written by johnrondina

January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

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