Second wave of mobile apps fast approaching says Yorkshire-based technology specialist

The second wave of mobile apps is fast approaching, predicts technology specialist Simon Howship, managing director of app development firm Common Agency. And it looks like de ja vu from the dot com days.

When the business environment was first hit by the dot com bubble between 1997 and 2000, a number of organisations invested heavily in websites that they thought they unequivocally needed in order to survive, Howship recounts. “Budgets were blown but, in many cases, a return on investment was nowhere to be seen,” he says.

“The web experienced something of a downturn not too long after, before the gradual resurgence of ‘dot com – phase two’,” he continues. “Companies that were a little later to the table had had time to think about what they wanted to achieve from a website. They ventured online not because they ‘had to’, but because they acknowledged the commercial advantage of doing so. They carefully considered the structure, content and interactivity of their sites, in order to achieve maximum benefits for the visitor. And now we see some incredibly big success stories in the shape of brands such as ASOS, PhotoBox and John Lewis, who continue to excel in the online space.”

Now Howship forecasts the mobile landscape to perfectly mirror this sequence of events. He elaborates: “Yes there were a few early adopters such as Moonpig, who approached mobile apps with caution and experienced great success as a result. However, many brands ventured into the world of apps four or five years ago, investing vast amounts of money in the technology for all the wrong reasons.

“They jumped on the bandwagon, rushing into building monolithic apps, even though they didn’t have a mobile strategy in place. They didn’t think about what they wanted the app to do and why – the apps were simply PR stunts, not profitable business tools. A number of super-agencies also wrongfully professed to offer expertise in this niche area of creative marketing, but didn’t revisit or update the apps that they developed. As a result, to a certain extent, the faith in mobile apps was lost.”

So fast forward to 2015, why is interest in mobile apps heating up?

“Organisations have had time to think about what mobile app they want, and why,” believes Howship. “They’ve paid great attention to the habits and requirements of their clientele, and realised that there are trusted experts in the marketplace who can help them design and build a new app, or even take over an existing one that hasn’t lived up to expectations.

“An app shouldn’t be a digital brochure or a lame attempt to mirror your web offering. With careful consideration it can be a profitable business tool, and this is what commercially savvy companies are now coming to realise.”

Is Howship suggesting every business should now invest in a mobile strategy?

“Of course, it won't be right for every company, just yet,” he admits. “However, businesses with brands – especially those in the consumer environment – can no longer rely on face-to-face custom and/or web traffic alone. As the technology evolution continues apace, and an ever-increasing number of consumers interact with the AppStore and GooglePlay, there is a growing danger of losing market share and therefore revenue to competitors with effective apps.

Having a responsive mobile site is not enough, however great it is. App stores are akin to popular shopping centres – if that’s where your customers go looking, that’s where you need to be.”

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