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The end of the app

By Richard Otto

In the last two years almost every self-respecting marketing manager wanted an iPhone application, despite the fact that less than 3 percent of the Dutch population owns an iPhone. 

Data Consumption
Nevertheless, the iPhone has the largest data consumption of all mobile devices and the features of an application are much better than a mobile site at this moment.

The total data consumption from all mobile platforms is increasing rapidly.

Morgan Stanley research already reported recently that the mobile Internet will be bigger than desktop Internet in two years.

That said the costs for developing applications for all different mobile platforms will be too high for most marketing managers.

Stand out
And even if marketers create applications, originality is missing.

Many companies approach the App Store as a “me too” tactic, hoping for a boost in the number of mobile users.

When we look at the large number of applications in the Apple App Store –225.000 – and Android Market’s 100.000 it is very hard these days to stand out with your branded application.  

Place of honor
Free publicity for your branded application is not to be taken for granted anymore.

Besides, thanks to the clutter, many smartphone users do not want to fill up their phone screen with lots of applications which they do not use on a daily basis.

Only the frequently used applications will get a place of honor on the home screen of smartphones.

This is, in my opinion, not much different from the desktop shortcuts and icons of our PC.

Moreover, with the release of the compatible HTML5, most of the advantages of applications such as usability in relation to a mobile site will decline in the future.

Coming years
Now, with my thoughts on applications, I believe that in the coming years mobile developers will not be out of work.

But I doubt that most of the mobile developments will be in application.

The only reason we use applications is because the mobile browsing experience is not very user-friendly at the moment. The fact that we need to download, install and click on an application for every little thing is pretty awkward.

HTML5 is great for usability and easiness of use, both for the developer and the user. However, it is not a set standard yet, 

That HTML5 will end the immense amount of application developments is pretty sure.
On the development side there is a huge advantage with HTML5.

No need to develop your application for all existing and new platforms, such as Bada, Android, Symbian, Maemo, BlackBerry,iPhone and Windows Mobile – it just works. 

I think it is fair to predict that improvements to mobile Web browsers such as HTML5 and Flash will render the vast majority of applications obsolete. I give it another three to four years max.

Richard Otto is sales manager of Blyk NL, Amsterdam,The Netherlands. Reach him at [email protected].