Everyday, every minute we use iPhones and iPads to get things done. We use it on our way to work to check in on the day’s agenda and while on the train to read news. And more than talking, more than texting, it is evident that our daily phone time is used on apps, something which wasn’t even a part of mainstream imagination just a few years ago.
The Economy that Apple Built
Today, the mobile-app industry is peaking. More handheld apps are sold everyday than desktops. And leading the revolution has been Apple’s iOS. Apple’s smartphone operating system has more than 750,000 applications that can run on several generations of its iDevices. Consumers pay good money for applications ranging from as little as 99 cents to more than $10 for a particular apps, a good indicator for real world economics considering the trend towards ‘free’.
Thanks to Apple’s iOS continuous update policy, developers had it pretty mapped out. That, along with their products’ common architecture, has enabled Apple to build one of the most successful digital consumer ecosystems in the world, perhaps only bettered by their own iTunes store, and of course, rivaled by Amazon’s online megamall. But even as the tech giant wages war with other heavyweights like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, there are issues at ground level that need looking into.
What’s Eroding Quality?
As competition continues to grow, iOS apps are increasingly becoming very similar. On a slow Saturday afternoon, touch the App Store icon and try searching for a generic app, say time management. You’ll keep running into virtually the same utilities, similar UIs and a lot of apps that basically do the same thing. Pretty soon, you’ll lose interest (we did) and stop looking. And let’s admit it, who’s interested in trying a ‘slightly’ better app?
A large group of developers and brands entering the market are betting on promising ideas, which they should. But they should do more than make up the numbers. The developers will know how and why their app is better, but the user doesn’t care. For all he knows, this app is the same as that free one on the next scroll.
If you aren’t the first mover
There is the issue of getting there first. And developers need to fight off rivals capable of offering the same experience, only packaged and marketed better. While some do try to address entirely new problems, those who strike gold are rare. For newcomers hitting a known domain, price can’t be the USP either, for there are at least a few dozen apps doing more or less the same thing for free.
Feedback and Reviews
As an App developer, the competition, the numbers and everything ‘business’ are for you to worry about. All the user cares about is the product experience. The little things like loading time, the crash that made them lose a high score, your update cycle will be noticed only by them. Everything contributes to their view of the product. And they’ll talk. App users are a tech savvy breed, after all, and they expect and deserve respect.
This is when you should realize that no matter what app you have, the rating and review space on the App Store, or Twitter and Facebook is the only place for your users to reach you. Sure, you have a beautiful website and a support portal to take tickets, but do you actually believe users will use them? If God forbid, you put in a bug in the app that actually screws up the gameplay or the experience, be ready for a tirade on social media. That’s where everyone vents, and that’s where it hurts most.
You don’t have to work at CERN to understand that the support experience needs to be a part of your product itself. An amazing website isn’t going to help your customers when they are frustrated with the product. That’s why just a Contact Us link on your site doesn’t cut it. And that is exactly why we built Mobihelp. We wanted developers to be able to integrate a support portal inside their apps, where users could raise complaints, find answers to popular questions and chat directly with developers. Crash reports now get sent directly, no questions asked, and no fire-fighting on social media too.
Wouldn’t that be the best way to stand out ever ? The App Maker that listens to and incorporates customer feedback in real time into the update and maintenance process?
We think it would be.