With the year drawing to a close, a team of us here at IdentityMine reviewed the past year, identified the top trends that impacted our community of mobile application developers in 2010, and compiled our predictions for the year to come. We were able to glean key insight from our clients who span a broad range of industries. In 2010, we increasingly noticed that our clients were interested in intuitive design and the ability to repurpose applications for other platforms. They also wanted to deepen their understanding of what applications can do for their brands. We see that 2011 will bring the continued evolution of several major mobile trends--the increasing market fragmentation and the demand for mobile applications. IdentityMine also predicts that we’ll begin to see a few new trends like the .dot com boom/bust in the application market.
Here are IdentityMine’s predictions for 2011:
Excellent Visual Design gains importance for applications. With the release of iPhone 4, Droid and Windows Phone 7, mobile users became addicted to good design in 2010. In 2011 we can expect that UX designers at agencies will be tasked to elevate quality and intuitive design within software applications. Further integration of applications (to work with each other, both in mobile and non-mobile form factors) will be in high demand.
We can expect continued Market Fragmentation when developing mobile applications. Developers are being pushed to choose between specializing in a UX (Mobile, Touch, Desktop, etc.) and specializing in a platform (IOS, .NET, Silverlight, MonoDroid, etc.) Developers will need to develop apps for multiple devices/platforms and fully understand the strengths/weaknesses of each to best serve their clients. Agencies will be expected to respond to mobile strategies (whereas previously they were expected to simply make iPhone apps). Because of the market fragmentation, companies need agencies more than ever because only agencies and development firms can invest in the deep understanding of a variety of technologies, whereas enterprises generally have to choose a platform in which to specialize. (Read Kurt Brockett's excellent post about Android Fragmentation here)
We’re seeing the dot.com boom all over again with the application market. In 2010, consumers saw a plethora of applications hit the market. We saw many enterprises make applications without a real strategy behind it. For larger brands, value perception is a key factor in their application’s success. 75% of apps are deleted within 72 hours of being downloaded. The problem is compounded by a sometimes chaotic and difficult-to-navigate application market. The bubble is growing, and will probably burst in the next 12-18 months. In 2011 the focus will be on useful apps as much as fun ones. We will also see companies come to terms with the app market at their own pace.
Demand for Application Monetization will mean more ads. Many applications are incredibly cheap, considering the effort that goes into making a sophisticated one. In fact, Apple and other vendors are encouraging volume for application monetization. Because the price points make it difficult to monetize apps, there will be an increase in ad-sponsored apps.
Apps replacing websites. Many websites are actually applications (Netflix, Match.com, Amazon). Clients will ask agencies to develop increasingly complex web experiences with equal parts interactivity, data integration, and visual beauty. The application trend is the beginning of the end for “brochure sites”. And Enterprise and ISV will mobilize their large complex and monolithic applications into a suite of mobile apps.
Privacy will continue to be an issue. Given the privacy breaches associated with Facebook and Google in 2010, consumers will continue to be concerned about the protection of privacy. With GPS available in cell phones, however, agencies will have to continually watch the privacy requirements of their clients when developing applications or marketing campaigns. Interestingly, the volume of the privacy debate doesn’t correlate with consumer behavior – consumers are relinquishing privacy in exchange for features/convenience much more readily than in previous eras.
Monetizing the Cloud. We can expect that successful application will need to function with a single login. UX designers will be tasked to figure out how to minimize login experiences without compromising security. In 2010, the focus was on how companies can use the Cloud from a functional perspective. In 2011, consumer brands will be figuring out to monetize the Cloud. While ads seem the most obvious way, we anticipate Cloud subscriptions as well.
Budgets will take more of a spotlight. Companies are seeking enterprise-grade applications with consumer-grade price tags on them. In 2011, we anticipate that companies will quickly learn that the complexity of an app that represents their brand, works on multiple platforms, is reliable, complex, and elegant is far greater than a simple consumer app that does one thing .
These trends mean that clients will most likely need to take a strategic and phased approach to application monetization. The importance of UX, beautiful design, and application usefulness will also be especially important as it will make or break their app efforts. In the rush to “get in on the action,” we encourage clients to choose strong software development partners and visual designers so that their applications can be developed with a quality end user experience in mind.