Sunday, July 10, 2016

App Fatigue

It’s hard to believe 2016 and everyone is still obsessed with building native apps for Android and iOS. App fatigue is real: Apps take a long time to find, install, and keep updated: It took almost 2 minutes to download the current version of the Uber app onto my phone. 65.5% of smartphone users download 0 apps per month, and the vast majority of smartphone users use less than 20 apps in the same period. For you, it will cost between $90k-$140k to develop a V1 - and if it doesn’t take off, all that expense will be wasted.

Consider building for mobile web instead: You only have to build once instead of building two apps for iOS and Android. Your content will be findable through search engines, and linkable from Facebook and Twitter. There’s no time spent downloading an app, users skip right to the content. And on Android, which has 80% market share, you can benefit from the features of Progressive Web Apps, which will grant your mobile web site many of the same privileges normally enjoyed by full-blown apps: an icon on the home screen, offline capability, push notifications, and fast UIs.

The one exception to my recommendation is gaming: It’s hard to imagine that high-end mobile games (think Monument Valley) can be implemented as web apps. But for app categories such as social networking, finance, education, entertainment, productivity, utility, or travel, building your V1 as a mobile app seems wrong.

Realistically, if you’re in these categories, users will will find and read your content through a search engine or a social network. By developing for mobile web, you’ll make their experience seamless, and they’ll be more likely to return.

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