It’s an increasingly common sight nowadays – your favourite website brings out a handy app, something for you to download onto your smartphone either in iPhone or Android format. It’s very likely to be a free app, particularly if it’s a shopping one, as brands are trying to encourage you to access their products quickly, easily and from anywhere, regardless of whether you’re on the move or sat at home.
The teen years of the 21st century might well be called the ‘decade of the app’, as we have taken to them as a nation like a duck to water. With smartphone use now at an all-time high and market penetration expected to reach 75% in the UK this year, most of us are surgically attached to them; they’re with us in the kitchen, in the bedroom and even in the bathroom.
Regenerating to keep you interested
Many apps available for smartphones have undergone several redesigns and upgrades over the last few years, as companies realise that market share of internet-enabled phones is on the up nd up and even more people are doing their shopping through it, generating increased sales.
In fact, mobile users in the UK are more likely to buy goods using their smartphone than anywhere else in Europe, according to recent research.
Out of 18 European countries surveyed by Google, at 32% the UK has the highest percentage of people who make a monthly purchase on their smartphones.
Picture sharing just got more engaging
But it’s not just shopping apps that regenerate themselves on a regular basis – gaming, social media and information ones do too. Pinterest, for instance, the picture pinning and sharing site, launched a new version of its mobile site in March – this version brings the user’s mobile web experience more on a par with its desktop version.
Pinterest reports that more than 75% of its usage comes through mobile apps. It’s a market trend that they would be stupid to ignore. Last year, mobile grew 50% from the beginning of the year to become more than three quarters of all usage. On phone and tablet, mobile usage takes over the desktop in the evenings and on the weekends, in particular.
As a brand with a growing national as well as international base, having a modern and up to date mobile site is key to Pinterest’s ongoing expansion efforts. They understand that some users’ first visit to Pinterest will be via a mobile browser, all the more reason for languages to be localised and functionality to be as effective on a mobile as on a desktop.
The generation gap
If mobile usage is to increase even further, it will be the Generation Y-ers which will lead the way. This younger generation, those between 20 and 30, lead the way on smartphone and mobile adoption, and are the age group most likely to use mobile and tablet apps.
Interestingly, despite tablets being wildly popular and with sales going through the roof over the last few years, the number sold is expected to drop in 2014. The early adopters are leaving them behind for the older generation to enjoy. Conversely, mobile sales are on the up, showing that young people are increasingly accessing services through apps, as they’re more comfortable doing it this way than via a web browser.
The death of the internet?
We’re effectively witnessing the beginning of a long-term trend, where the internet becomes siloed – the under 30s going online via apps, and consuming information, playing games and shopping this way; whereas those over 40 are the ones who are taking over Facebook, the ones browsing for that perfect pair of shoes on their tablet in front of the TV.
Who knows what we’ll see happen with websites and apps over the next few years. What is fairly certain is that apps are going to get a whole lot cleverer and more intuitive, more in tune with the way you life your life. So it’s quite likely that come 2020, if not long before, all the apps on your phone will talk to each other. We can see it happening already, where you can log into one app using your Facebook or Twitter details, effectively circumnavigating any website. It’s entirely possible that the fitness app you downloaded onto your phone to monitor your running speed, will start suggesting playlist tunes from the Spotify app, depending on your performance.
The future’s bright, the future’s in apps.