Designing a mobile app that players will actually use on a regular basis is a challenging proposition.

The fact is that most apps see an early usage spike followed by a dramatic drop, before leveling off. (It’s a phenomenon so pronounced that the “half-life”- or time it takes to lose half your initial users – is a key app industry metric.)

Most everyone seems to realize that end-user really like apps. In fact, most mobile users spend 86% of their mobile time on apps not browsers. But these would-be app impresarios are also finding that apps need more than just content to hold a customers’ interest.

This dilemma was the subject of a recent, in-depth posting on titled, What Marketers are Getting Wrong About Apps, by Rohhan Ayar.

Ayar’s main idea is that while content apps are nice, they’re really not the kind of apps that will hold end-user interest over the long haul.

He points out that relatively few content-only apps have found any kind of success and that content curation apps like Flipboard give end-users the ability to cherry pick the content they really want anyways.

As it turns out, content-oriented e-mail – with a half-life of around 14 months – has a much better retention rate than content apps anyways.

So what about communication and messaging apps? After all, didn’t Facebook just purchase WhatsApp for $19 billion?

Ayar is quick to point out that Facebook has had app success that smaller companies are unlikely to replicate. He also points out that communications apps have even lower half-lives than content apps.

So with content and messaging apps off the table, what kind of apps should developers be focusing on? Ayar’s idea is that utility and productivity apps are the way to go, even though that can be difficult to produce.

A great example of utility app that’s getting great buy-in is the Starbucks’ payment app. This app was launched back in 2011, is tied in to Starbucks’ customer loyalty and is still going strong. In the first quarter of 2013 it added a whopping 1.3 million new members.

Utility apps are also a great fit for gambling affiliates, especially sports betting and poker affiliates.

SportsInsights mobile app, for example, allows end users to research line movement; mark the games they’re following; and provides scoring updates – all in a very useable interface. Of course SportsInsights uses the app to push pick packages, social media and other offerings.

The end game with app development is to keep the end-users enclosed in your ecosystem, with something engaging and useful in front of their faces.


Tags: , ,

Related posts: