Apps – the love/hate relationship. 12


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Mobile Application Development

Mobile Application Development

In January of this year, Apple announced the App store had reached forty billion downloads, and that ten billion dollars was spent on IOS Apps in 2013. Three billion of the Apps were downloaded in December alone.

You have to wonder how many of these Apps were developed just to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of the frenzy to get some quick cash?

As I trawl through hundreds of Apps and pick interesting ones to view I see comments like “hopeless, waste of money”, “clunky and crashes when you do…” and “I want my money back”.

You don’t have to search far to find these kinds of comments. So much so you have to wonder whether mainstream App development is going the way of the Nigerian scam. Promise anything for the chance of a buck.

Driven by a low cost per unit market, we have to understand this often means a lower quality product upon release.

Corporate computing

Corporate computing

Then there is the question of whether mobile will become a true corporate computing solution and replace the PC altogether. If that is going to happen App development needs to have a completely different lifecycle than the one that currently exists.

I have done a bit of research on well-positioned Apps vs newer just out of development Apps (my research was by no means empirical). What I noticed is that there seems to be a reduction in feedback and comments from people.

It is almost like people are getting so bored with buggy Apps they can’t even be bothered to comment anymore. Early versions of older Apps seem to have a lot more feedback than Apps released recently.

At present, a lot of App developers are, in my opinion, fishing. They know that, with so many fish in the water, they are bound to catch a percentage regardless of how good the App is.

They can then use this fishing money to turn out other Apps or create a better version to try capitalise on their existing momentum. Either way they are using the customer as the test bed so you pay the price twice – once for the App and once for the frustration.

My prediction is that very soon App fatigue will set in, after which those developers that survive will be the ones who know what the customer wants and involve the customer in the process.

Include the customer during the process

Include the customer during the process

The future for App development needs to facilitate a method that allows the customer to provide contributory input. The value of this is harnessed by utilising customer input during the process of development.

The outcome would be a better-refined, more focused product that would increase the margin of customer satisfaction and experience no matter the platform.

There is a real need to harness customer input while leveraging the selection process in App development, leading to the thought that greater customer input leads to more acute selection, with the intention of creating a customer-centric product.

Some Apps/developers will survive if they meet a need, but many others will find the consumer market is getting smarter – future potential customers will want to see some proof in the pudding before they purchase.

If mobile is going corporate (I believe it will) as a complete business solution for the knowledge worker, then App developers need to get serious and work with the customer to provide solid App development.

Finally I could not have said it better than this quote from the VP of Shell:

Customer co-creation

Customer co-creation is a must

“At Shell Global Solutions, our approach to technical collaboration is designed to mitigate these risks. We call it co-creation, but there is a myth in the industry that co-creation simply entails seeking the input of another party. Co-creation is much, much more than that. It is a sophisticated approach to technical collaboration that brings together distinctive viewpoints to provide a fundamentally better understanding of a customer’s problem and to evaluate the widest possible technical solution set.”

–  Suleyman Ozmen, Vice President, Refining and Chemical Licensing, Shell Global Solutions

To survive in the future – you will need to understand the customers problem and deliver a quality product.

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Rod Byfield

About Rod Byfield

Once a wayward rural kid originally from the small town of Kandos in central New South Wales, Australia. I have always held the belief that given the right environment anyone can achieve whatsoever they desire.


12 thoughts on “Apps – the love/hate relationship.

  • Danielle Smith

    I feel this way about a lot of apps I have downloaded, even the “big time” ones like Facebook and Instagram, etc. A lot of them seem to crash or have issues which, when fixed, only give way to more. Obviously, things can never be perfect but what steps can someone developing an application take to ensure a standard of quality?

  • Rod Byfield
    Rod Byfield Post author

    Thanks for your comment Danielle, I have had the same experience with a number of Apps. We have also paid for “business” Apps that have at times been unusable.
    Standards and Quality are sacrificed by many App developers for quick release. The result of which is a reduction or complete removal of Quality Assurance and User Acceptance testing. This needs to change.

  • Lincoln DeKalb

    This is a good article Rod. Well written and thought out. Mobile is certainly going enterprise – there’s no doubt about that.

    I do wonder about the distinction of co-creation or collaborative feedback loops between the consumer and the enterprise space. In principle you would assume it has much of the same dynamics. A need, a bunch of customers and a development team. What highlights the differences between the 2 markets, I believe, is the approach and the purpose.

    Enterprises, particularly large, are driven by business cases and ROI (i’m not here to debate the merits of that). To judge success the business case needs to be met and ROI needs to be achieved. It’s because of that they set in motion a defined set of functionality based on the original business case to a, let’s face it, captured audience.

    The consumer market is entirely different. There’s no captured audience, you might have a business case but it’s probably a lot less rigid, and success is defined by the engagement of the customer – therefore there’s so much more impetus on the approach because the purpose is different.

    You’ve alluded to that in the post, that a different development paradigm is required, and I wholeheartedly agree for the enterprise space. For the consumer space however I think the solution is a better “filter” that weeds out the good from the bad! And that’s a slippery slope I don’t have an answer to.

  • Rod Byfield
    Rod Byfield Post author

    Hi Lincoln, thanks for the compliments and the comments. Really good food for thought.

    I could not agree more with your comment, in fact I love this statement “What highlights the differences between the 2 markets, I believe, is the approach and the purpose.”

    A few additional comments:

    Both markets require – a “customer” and a “need or requirement to fulfil”. The consumer market is a wide open space where as the Enterprise is very focused.

    As far as ROI is concerned I would consider that both markets require this also, although the enterprise would be more procedure and process driven towards ROI.

    Also in the enterprise the ROI may not be financially driven, instead it could be a part of Corporate – Social Inclusion or Corporate Social Responsibility. In this case the objective could be to improve involvement, educate or give a positive contribution within the workspace, the industry or society in general.

    One factor is guaranteed the enterprise space requires a high level of stability. If you try to implement services in large organisations that have fundamental development issues, the kickback could be enough to kill the project completely.

  • Mehroz Ali Pasha

    The article is indeed a very good read. Very well said that you can love or you can hate mobile apps but they are here to stay. To be successful in app business as products, it is crucial to understand the taste and habits of the targeted market and also finding the most crucial gaps.

  • Rod Byfield
    Rod Byfield Post author

    Thanks Mehroz – I appreciate the kind comments. Your not wrong – mobile / device based Apps are not going away – but lets hope the quality improves, not just the quantity. Which is what many people seem to concentrate on.

  • Neil Davies

    Good article @Rodney. As a BlackBerry user and developer I note that the quality of apps in our store are of lessor that one used to expect. Part of this seems to the result of BlackBerry working hard to get developers to port Android apps to the new BlackBerry 10 platform. More certainly doesn’t mean better and I must confess to removing about 90 percent of the apps I download these days. Rarely do I write a review nor even give an app a rating, as poor quality seems to have become the norm these days.

    As developing mobile apps has become easier, i’m seeing more apps being released by very inexperienced developers who struggle to get any functionality fully operational, forget about reliable or innovative. We saw similar patterns in the early days of the PC clone. Most early developers were experienced professionals, as 4GL were released and newbie developers joined in, software became slow and buggy.

  • Rod Byfield
    Rod Byfield Post author

    Thanks for your comments Neil, “Rarely do I write a review nor even give an app a rating” this is exactly what I have found in my simplistic research of Apps – most people seem so disappointed they cant even be bothered to put in a bad review. The issue with this is that no one gets warned….

    I remember when the IBM compatibles came on the market en-masse (Thanks for the nostalgia), and the emergence of the PC software market. I guess I had a little more understanding back then; (IMHO) software development was very expensive and on a personal level much harder to learn.

  • Stephanie Giard

    The app space is definitely changing. We create solutions for businesses that include an app component. When we first started, we definitely struggled because of those low priced garbage apps. This was a problem not just because they were poorly designed, but because their low price of $0.99 was driving market expectations of pricing that were unrealistic. We are definitely seeing a change. Organizations looking to integrate apps into their existing workflows don’t trust the cheap apps, or they begin searching to see where they company is actually making their money. Businesses are starting to understand that you can’t build and maintain a quality product for $0.99. Quality has a cost and unless a company is selling hundreds of thousands of app, $0.99 won’t get it done.

  • Rod Byfield
    Rod Byfield Post author

    Hi Stephanie – Thanks for your comments – I completely agree, quality and security costs money.

    I guess the issue still remains though regardless of the end price – People will continue to install Apps that they want for enjoyment and social activity – and business Apps will need to co-exist.
    I agree with your trust statement completely “Organizations looking to integrate apps into their existing workflows don’t trust ” BUT – Anyone that has a smart phone will happily utilise the device for business and personal “socially aware” activities, causing the business to battle against the psychology and personal interest of the end user.

    Of course, there are tools that are available to isolate Apps – personal vs. business – but this only creates a barrier for the risk – it does not deal with the greater issue “millions of risky Apps”.
    I’m certainly glad your team is working towards a better solution 😉

  • Eugene Kulinek

    They clutter the store. Google should review or have some kind of criteria. Recently I have reviewed free 20+ meditation apps. 2 of them could be called apps. The rest are not app but way to push ads or something else I am now aware of. These are indeed substandard.

    • Rod Byfield
      Rod Byfield Post author

      Hi Eugene,

      I could not agree more, its quite disappointing. I have also had the same experience with a number of ‘Apps for advertising’ maybe we call it ‘Appvertising’, whatever it is they are just terrible. Which makes me fell like I have just downloaded some type of scam

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