Over the last few years, the future of the mobile app has been brought increasingly into question. With smartphone and tablet technology improving by the day, many big brands have been turning to mobile-friendly websites over more traditional applications. As a result, many have been wondering how the humble app can compete in today’s market and whether their end may be imminent.
Apps have been a staple of the mobile industry since 2008, with their early success providing the foundation for Apple and Android’s dominance over the smartphone market. Their very existence caused an entire ecosystem to spring into being, as big corporations and independent start-ups alike competed with one another to create the latest must-have application for smartphone users. Over the years, companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon have also thrown their hats into the ring, providing their own devices and digital storefronts for apps.
However, the technology is not without its drawbacks, the most obvious of which is their distribution platforms. Apps are primarily available through app stores, which are usually curated by the companies that designed them.
As a result, the consumer’s ability to access certain software is determined almost entirely by whether the likes of Apple and Google will allow it on their storefront, and while that is their prerogative, it does place some limits on a user’s access to particular applications. There are some exceptions to this – independent app stores such as GetJear and F-Droid do exist, but even then the software is usually locked onto specific hardware.
There is also the fact that upgrading a device’s operating system can render certain apps obsolete, as they are incompatible with the newer system. This means that consumers have a chance of losing some of their applications altogether whenever they update their device’s software, as seen last year when the upgrade to iOS 11 killed off a large number of the service’s older apps.
Meanwhile, the tech industry is constantly changing and smartphones have been evolving with it. Recent innovations such as HTML5 and adaptive design have made it easier than ever to develop mobile-friendly websites. There are even some in the industry that predict that there won’t be a need for apps in just a few years’ time.
Social media, online stores and even casinos have all taken the initiative to develop websites which are completely mobile friendly and don’t require an app to access them. For those interested in the latter, there is a full article here.
However, despite what the doomsayers proclaim, the mobile app ecosystem has not met its end just yet. There are still millions of developers creating them, while billions of smartphone owners still use them daily. Meanwhile, official statistics suggest that well over 100 billion apps were downloaded last year alone, showing that the market for them is still going strong.
For now, it seems that apps still have some life left in them, as they have been able to coexist with their new competitors. How long this remains the case, however, is anyone’s guess.