The Magic Of Mobile Apps

Said the snail to the sloth, at the risk of incurring its wrath;
who’s faster of the two? The mobile app or you?
Retorted the sloth, you surely jest, my dear snail,
for, there is no doubt, that you, are faster than the email!
And as for the app Zap”zzzzz”

And while this tongue in cheek, humorous, benevolent, good-natured banter, continues between these two good friends, oblivious to all, in the human world, the race is on, to produce apps, apps and more apps!! All jostling with each other, to squeeze in, into a tiny space, on the screens of our ubiquitous mobiles, be it phones or tablets. When first conceived, towards the end of the 20th century, little did the discoverer know that, our whole life, would one day, be governed by apps!

It seems truly, that, with apps, our very concept and method of living our lives, has changed, the official parlance being, “doing things on-the-go!!”

“App”, short for “application software”, is a program designed specifically for our mobile devices- that’s to say, mobile phones, smartphones to be specific, and tablets. This allows a user/ customer to be instantly connected at all times and at all places to businesses on the internet, without visiting the website. This unfolds a host of opportunities for the customer and the business.

Just imagine, if one wants to see a movie or a play, shop for clothes, grocery, crockery, mobile phones or computers, book a bus, train or a flight ticket, get a date, look for a marriage proposal, check for available discounts, book an appointment with a doctor, know what the weather is going to be like or what does the stock exchange say, or simply browse the web, all that one needs to do, is to use the app, and voila its done, in the blink of an eye! The same is true for making transactions like remittances or trading in stocks, through mobile banking and brokerage.

No more having to wait in long queues, lack of commodities, navigating through traffic, and no time constraints; one can avail of all these services and more, while being mobile, round the clock.

For businesses, it’s like manna from the heavens! It leads to greater visibility and remaining connected at all times, with their customers, thus building brand loyalty and a roaring business.

As technology improves to 3G and 4G, as more people get access to the internet, and smartphones become cheaper, E-commerce is gradually giving way to M-commerce and apps are the way to go. In fact, Nasscom and FB, together, will mentor 10 startups in India, specifically to develop apps, in the coming months.

It will be interesting at this juncture, to know how an app could be built for a business. There are essentially 2 ways, either DIY with BuildAnApp, SwebApps or AppBreeder, or to get a developer to develop it. The latter option, is a journey by itself and involves a lot of dynamics.

In general, as apps are used for different aspects of the business, the app should be built specifically to focus on the aim that is to be accomplished, for a particular platform eg. Android, iOS and should be cost-effective. The icon/s that represents the app, should be eyeball grabbing, jaw-dropping, with a strong emotional connect, to attract users. To cap it all, it helps if all relevant technical documents to felicitate development of the app, and contracts are drafted out well in advance.

The bigger challenge is always, to retain the loyalty of customers to brands. A strategy adopted by several startups, following in the steps of Facebook, is to have multiple apps which are interconnected, to meet various consumer needs. These apps are launched on different platforms like Android and iOS.

This approach, in addition, gives several advantages to the business. Apps can be developed and updated faster, innovative revenue models can be used, and user experience becomes smoother.

An example in case, is Flipkart, which has separate apps for e-books, the Flipkart app for electronics and other shopping, Flipkart seller hub for business and Flipkart nearby as a mobile supermarket. Similarly, Snapdeal too has 5 different apps, catering to different groups like buyers, sellers etc. Commonfloor, which deals with realty, has 4 apps like agents, residents etc. and FB has Messenger, Pages and Groups.

Amidst all the frenzied endeavours to develop apps for every conceivable business, there is a debate which has recently sprung up, about the prudence of using only mobile apps vs. using the website, to do business. Or whether service oriented businesses benefit more from using apps or product businesses.

The reactions to this have been mixed, from different players. While some like Urban Ladder, the online furniture store, garner a lesser share through the app, there are others like BoookMyShow, for ticketing, who do better business via a mobile app. Irrespective of the outcome, it is definite, that more and more business will be conducted on mobiles, in the coming years.

In fact, as this kind of social behaviour of “living” practically online, matures, our relationship with mobile apps, will be quite akin to what Aladdin had, with his magic lamp!!
That, my dear friends, will indeed be, true magic, at your fingertips!!

And travelling long, dusty miles, to say, “open sesame”, to discover a cave full of glittering goodies and ear- to- ear smiles, would be a thing, long gone in the past!!!
? A thumbs up from me, for a mobile way of life!

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