Apple is running the countdown to the download of its 10 billionth app. No matter how you slice it, thats a lot of Angry Birds, red balls and bumps. The average iOS user (apple now lumps iphone/ipad/itouch under the iOS grouping) is reported to have downloaded over 60 apps! Combine that with the default apps and you are looking at almost 4 screens of apps. That’s a lot of apps! Judging by the number of screens and folders on my iphone, I’m certainly upping the average!
For marketers, the effort to get a quality app out the door is hard enough. Then we have to encourage the user to install the app. Pop the champagne, right? Mission accomplished? Sadly, no. With 60 apps on the phone, marketers have to continue the effort to entice the user to “use it”. If the app is too complicated, requires too much time investment or, gulp, crashes, the app may not get a second chance. Once the app is on the phone, the app needs to become part of the consumers regular routine if you hope to have an impact.
Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, once said “Our goal was to design a game that you could learn in a quarter but take hundreds of quarters to master.” The same is true with an app. It has to be stone simple to start using, but continue to offer increasing value with each use. “Mastery” or getting bored with the app is a certain recipe for failure. The app should learn from each use, collect data from the user or other users that adds value to the consumer down the line.
For many marketers, the ideal path is to participate in other apps, such as Facebook places or Foursquare. This participation eliminates the one obstacle, getting the app in the user’s hand. But the marketer still has a responsibility to drive interest in the app and associate it with the brand. The consumers needs to check in before the purchase, not after if you hope to influence the person’s transaction.
Marketers need to market their investment in apps if they hope to see a pay off. We all envision our consumers becoming totally consumed by the magic in our app. We just need to also envision the plan to put the app in the consumer’s mind and keep it there.