Over the weekend, Apple announced that it had reached the 25-billion download mark through its app store, which opened in 2008. Further, the company counted 550,000 apps and has reportedly paid developers more than $4 billion in royalties.
Impressive stats. However, what is missing is data on the return on investment for brand managers, some of whom took the plunge in the very early days in part because of a misguided belief that the mere creation of an app would be newsworthy.
“Companies were making decisions to develop an app and rushing to launch something just so they could point to it in the app store,” Joy Liuzzo, InsightExpress vice president and director, says in my soon-to-be-released book, Mobilized Marketing: Driving Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices http://jeffhasen.com/pages/mobilized-marketing-book.
“The lack of strategy is shocking in hindsight—and even during the time—but it spoke to the still naïve understanding of mobile by most companies. They thought of it as an isolated channel, something fun and fluffy, and that consumers would be willing to engage with anything they put in front of them. I think the realization that the channel and consumer were more sophisticated than they realized was a hard wake-up call for brands and agencies. However, those lessons were necessary to force agencies and brands down a more integrated strategy path, one that included proper planning and multiple mobile channel executions and media.”
Among the lessons learned was the need to drive attention to an app. Many now do so through mobile advertising.
Certainly a number of brands have successfully employed apps. Many winning applications serve utilitarian functions, providing such content as recipes, nutritional information and flight status. Others, such as an app employed by Starbucks, expedite payment at the point of sale.
Savvy marketers are giving consumers a choice by providing multiple ways to engage on a wireless device. That strategy is wise because it is more inclusive than a program that banks on one mobile product being available on an individual handset, then found and used by a brand’s customers and prospects.
What are consumers finding most interesting when it comes to apps?
Draw Something Free (social drawing and guessing game), The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Camera Awesome (that replaces the iPhone’s camera) were the top moving free apps on Saturday. Facebook and Twitter apps are always customer favorites, as is Angry Birds, the top selling iPhone and iPad app in 2011.
The top paid Android apps as of Saturday were Draw Something, Where’s My Water (game to test skills with a cranky alligator) and Beautiful Widgets (to customize such things as time and weather).