Over the last 12 years mobile phone subscriptions grew by a whopping 5 billion, from less than a billion in 2000 to over 6 billion currently. So it’s safe to say it was always going to be a race to figure out the best way to optimize content to be easily digestible on the mobile platform. Enter a man who app-lied his app-titude  and app-ealed to with the app. We all app-roved and app-lauded… ok I’ll stop now.

 The answer to making content more tailored to smart-phones was apps and it is very big business. With over 6 billion mobile phones there are over a million possible apps to download. These apps are downloaded at a rate of 1 billion per month and apple alone (roughly half the market) has passed 25 billion downloads. The reason apps are so popular are that they are tailored to the individual phones operating system (apple ios or android) and are condensed and easily manageable as opposed to a website that more often than not stores a lot more data.

 It seems strange then that almost half of businesses still don’t see mobile apps as a necessity. The most easy explanations of that would be that mobile apps are only of value to your business if your consumers are often looking up content on the internet. Things such as movie websites, radio stations, shopping centers and public transport are all things were an app to make content easily accessible for mobile phones is clearly important.

 However even if you don’t need an informative app, or an app to make your web content easier to manage on the go, there is still a business benefit for making use of apps. From a marketing perspective apps can help enhance your brands personality and a strong brand personality creates a strong brand relationship. Who knows if you are creative enough with your app it could go viral earning you exposure that you had anticipated which ever way you look at it, there is value in doing apps right. Hungry Jacks have recently combined advertising with their phone app. The idea works on multiple levels. The first of which is it has a gambling or game like feature, you shake your phone it comes up with a random item you get for free, however to redeem your free item the app posts on your Facebook wall advertising Hungry Jacks to your friends.

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 Of course in the future that’s likely to change again, as mobile optimized websites and phone operating systems continue to improve, it’s predicted that in the future mobile optimized websites will be the best way to make your website available to consumers online, as it will give the full range of information and functionality of a website to a mobile phone user.

 There is still a lot of room for apps to make information more concentrated or even fun. In fact most of the apps I think of off the top of my head are silly fun games and there is certainly the chance to enhance your relationship with your consumers or audience by coming up with an app that reinforces your brand personality or profile. 

 Apps obviously have their limitations, for one it’s a market that is cluttered and getting more cluttered every day. To breakthrough with an app you will need to either have already had your audiences attention, for example movie or public transport timetables are things people would be checking anyway and therefore the app doesn’t really add traffic, alternatively your app will need to be very original and need the luck that goes with getting anything to ‘go viral’. Another limitation of apps is that they often have short life-spans things like ‘Words with Friends’ or ‘Draw Something’ are examples of the fact that apps tend to grow rapidly and then drop off just as quickly.

 As for apps I’d recommend.

 The Rotten Tomatoes app – simply called movies the app offers movie session times, synopsis, cast information as well as an aggregate reviewer score and links to the individual reviews. This has made last minute movie going an easier experience.

 Fainting Goats – A friend of mine developed this fun and addictive game, it’s really well created and a pretty funny concept. I certainly enjoyed playing it.

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 Urbanspoon- Urbanspoon is to food as Rotten Tomatoes is to movies. Great in detail user reviews of restaurants as well as aggregated scores. The random selector is also a fun way to pick a place to eat.

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 As for the app that I’d steer clear of

 My Rmit – I don’t know what I expected when I downloaded it, but I did it anyway. It’s not that the app is difficult to use, more that I really have no reason for it.

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