7 years ago
 

Part One of Two – Two missing pieces from the mobile revolution jigsaw

Part One of Two – Two missing pieces from the mobile revolution
We are in the middle of a mobile revolution (I admit it). But there are two elements lacking from the mobile revolution before devices on-the-move can beat those on the desk.
I took a lot of convincing but finally in November last year I admitted that the long promised year of the mobile as an online travel distribution channel was upon us.
I was reluctant for a long time because we (media and pundits) had been calling every year since 2000 the year of the mobile phone.
Now, with humble pie on my plate, I have been thinking about why now and what is next.
What is it about 2010 that has finally lived up to 10 years or promise of a mobile revolution?
The first thought answer is that we have finally reached a scale number, penetration level, tipping point or other buzz word size level of internet capable smart-phones.
But I think the answer lies not with hardware penetration but with functionality levels.
The reason why 2010 is the year of the mobile and the reason why the mobile revolution is different to what we expected in 2000 and predicted for the 10 years since is because the year of the mobile is really the year of the app.
By app, I mean a piece of software designed to perform a function where the function is stand alone but can only exist as part of an operational eco-system.
Something we now associate with mobile devices but something that has really been around since the first macros were developed.
The app numbers are as staggering as the smartphone hardware numbers. An Apple spokesperson told me that “we have over 225,000 apps on the App Store and more than 5 billion apps have been downloaded” servicing more than 2 million iPads sold in just 60 days and “over 85 million iPhone and iPod touch units in the marketplace today”.
Apps are not just a mobile phenomenon – Facebook are claiming 550,000 applications on their network
But there are two pieces missing from the app driven mobile revolution – app search and app inter-operability/multi-tasking.
In Part One we will look at App Search.
App Search
Apple has been pioneers in hardware development and software distribution. It is a staggering achievement that the iPhone/Pad/Pod Touch user has access to 225,000 apps.
But it’s another thing for that user to be able to find the app that is right for them. Apple’s iTunes App store may be the number one market place for apps in the world but it has a long way to go to be an effective app discovery engine.
Apple has opened up a massive distribution channel but one that is very hard to navigate through.
A user can browse by category (including travel) and then see top ten lists (Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing) but the discovery elements are missing.
No way to search by top rated. No way to browse by sub category (travel:search:accomdation booking). No “genius” like features for discovering new apps based on earlier purchases.
Consumers have the app world at their finger tips but are overwhelmed by the number and choice.
There are start ups trying to fix this.  Appolicious is “like Delicious for iPhone Apps” according to ReadWriteWeb.
Users can create lists of their favourite apps and through combinations of twitter-like “following”, yelp-like “voting” and Facebook-like “liking” these lists can be sorted and prioritised.
Networks of similar minded users can be created through social networking to help generate the tastegraph like discovery tools for identifying apps to try (more on the tastegraph and recommendation B2B search provider LikeCube here).
Is a means for consumers to form online groups or referrer networks of people with the same interests and use those groups for discovering and recommending.
Appolicious has been a busy start up. They have raised $2.07 million from Apex Venture Partners, bought AppVee and launched their own iPhone app (for discovering other iPhone apps).
I spoke with Shara Karasic, director for social strategy at Appolicious. When asked about the future of app discovery and recommendation, she says:
“Ratings and keyword-based search are not enough – we need to try to get to intent. A user may be searching for travel reservation apps, but really needs not only a reservations engine, but a travel plan organizer, a flight tracker, a location-based discovery app for their destination, an audio phrasebook app.”
Karasic is particularly exited about the potential in travel especially given the features available in the new iPhone 4. She continues:
“Travel is one of the fastest-growing categories of user-created app lists and user reviews on Appolicious. Some of the most cutting-edge and most-used apps are travel apps. Travel apps are becoming indispensable, and I would tell people in the travel industry that if you don’t have an app now, you’ll need to have one quick. That includes people making guidebooks and language phrasebooks – your content needs to be mobile. The iPhone 4 with better video and video editing tools opens up huge travel-related possibilities.”
I certainly found it easier surfing around Appolcious looking for apps than the iTunes process.
The actual interface of iTunes is easier to use as it comfortably well known iTunes retail layout whereas Appolicious is a bit more crowded and personality driven.
While iTunes is easier to navigate, Appolicious generates a more compelling set of results.  Humans have done the job of indexing, collating and ranking apps under sub headings and useful tags.
This leads to an easier discovery process that available on iTunes.
The number of apps available will continue to grow exponentionally for a number of years.  Moneyma claim that in April 2009 there were 232,000,000 websites meaning the app to website ratio is only 1:1,000 – surely a sign that rapid app expansion will continue.
However just like Delicious, StumbledUpon, Digg, even Twitter were built to help surfers find interesting websites and content, I predict that these sites and many new start ups will join Appolicious in the app recommendation battle.
I also predict that a growth in app discovery and recommendation engines will be critical to the next phase of the mobile device revolution.
That the mobile revolution will stall until consumers have a highly functional network of app discovery and recommendations services.
In part two of this article we will talk about the second pieced need to take mobile devices from revolutionary to dominant – the need for app inter-operability and multitasking.
NB:
Hat-tip to @travelfish who told me about Appolicious;
A second start up is also doing interesting work in this space.  Positionapp collects data every hour from the iTunes app store to allow app tracking.  It is good for app store ratings but only tracks the top 300 apps and is not a recommendation engine.  Hat tip to our own Kevin May for telling me about this one;
Do you know of any other app search/discovery/recommendation sites?; and
Is it just me or is Appolicious one of the best start-up names you have come across? I love it (though PaidContent don’t agree)

We are in the middle of a mobile revolution (I admit it). But there are two elements lacking from the mobile revolution before devices on-the-move can beat those on the desk.

I took a lot of convincing but finally in November last year I admitted that the long promised year of the mobile as an online travel distribution channel was upon us.

I was reluctant for a long time because we (media and pundits) had been calling every year since 2000 as the year of the mobile phone.

Now, with humble pie on my plate, I have been thinking about why now and what is next.

What is it about 2010 that has finally lived up to 10 years of promise of a mobile revolution?

The first thought answer is that we have finally reached a scale number, penetration level, tipping point or other buzz word size level of internet capable smart-phones.

But I think the answer lies not with hardware penetration but with functionality levels.

The reason why 2010 is so important, and the reason why the mobile revolution is different to what we expected in 2000 and predicted for the ten years since, is because the year of the mobile is, in fact, the year of the app.

By app, I mean a piece of software designed to perform a function where the function is stand-alone but can only exist as part of an operational eco-system.

Something we now associate with mobile devices but something that has really been around since the first macros were developed.

The app numbers are as staggering as the smartphone hardware numbers. An Apple spokesperson tells me “we have over 225,000 apps on the App Store and more than five billion apps have been downloaded”, servicing more than two million iPads sold in just 60 days and “over 85 million iPhone and iPod touch units in the marketplace today”.

Apps are not just a mobile phenomenon – Facebook is claiming 550,000 applications on its network

But there are two pieces missing from the app driven mobile revolution – app search and app inter-operability/multi-tasking.

Part One: App Search

Apple is a pioneer in hardware development and software distribution. It is a staggering achievement that the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch user has access to 225,000 apps.

But it’s another thing for that user to be able to find the app that is right for them. Apple’s iTunes App store may be the number one market place for apps in the world but it has a long way to go to be an effective app discovery engine.

Apple has opened up a massive distribution channel but one that is very hard to navigate through.

A user can browse by category (including travel) and then see top ten lists (Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing) but the discovery elements are missing.

No way to search by top rated. No way to browse by sub category (travel:search:accomdation booking). No “genius” like features for discovering new apps based on earlier purchases.

Consumers have the app world at their finger tips but are overwhelmed by the number and choice.

appilicious

There are startups trying to fix this. Appolicious is “like Delicious for iPhone Apps”, according to ReadWriteWeb.

Users can create lists of their favourite apps and through combinations of Twitter-like following, Yelp-like voting and Facebook-like liking – the lists can also be sorted and prioritised.

Networks of similar minded users can be created through social networking to help generate the tastegraph-like discovery tools for identifying apps to try (more on the tastegraph and recommendation B2B search provider LikeCube).

It is a means for consumers to form online groups or referrer networks of people with the same interests and use those groups for discovering and recommending.

Appolicious has been a busy start up. It has raised $2.07 million from Apex Venture Partners, bought AppVee and launched its own iPhone app (for discovering other iPhone apps).

I spoke with Shara Karasic, director for social strategy at Appolicious. When asked about the future of app discovery and recommendation, she says:

“Ratings and keyword-based search are not enough – we need to try to get to intent. A user may be searching for travel reservation apps, but really needs not only a reservations engine, but a travel plan organizer, a flight tracker, a location-based discovery app for their destination, an audio phrasebook app.”

Karasic is particularly exited about the potential in travel especially given the features available in the new iPhone 4. She continues:

“Travel is one of the fastest-growing categories of user-created app lists and user reviews on Appolicious. Some of the most cutting-edge and most-used apps are travel apps. Travel apps are becoming indispensable, and I would tell people in the travel industry that if you don’t have an app now, you’ll need to have one quick. That includes people making guidebooks and language phrasebooks – your content needs to be mobile. The iPhone 4 with better video and video editing tools opens up huge travel-related possibilities.”

I certainly found it easier surfing around Appolcious looking for apps than the iTunes process.

The actual interface of iTunes is easier to use as it comfortably well known iTunes retail layout whereas Appolicious is a bit more crowded and personality driven.

While iTunes is easier to navigate, Appolicious generates a more compelling set of results.  Humans have done the job of indexing, collating and ranking apps under sub headings and useful tags.

This leads to an easier discovery process that available on iTunes.

The number of apps available will continue to grow exponentionally for a number of years. Moneyma claims that in April 2009 there were 232,000,000 websites meaning the app to website ratio is only 1:1,000 – surely a sign that rapid app expansion will continue.

However, just as Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, even Twitter were built to help surfers find interesting websites and content, I predict that these sites and many new start ups will join Appolicious in the app recommendation battle.

I also predict that a growth in app discovery and recommendation engines will be critical to the next phase of the mobile device revolution.

That the mobile revolution will stall until consumers have a highly functional network of app discovery and recommendations services.

In Part Two of this article we will talk about the second pieced need to take mobile devices from revolutionary to dominant – the need for app inter-operability and multi-tasking.

NB:

  • Hat-tip to @travelfish who told me about Appolicious;
  • A second start up is also doing interesting work in this space. Positionapp collects data every hour from the iTunes app store to allow app tracking.  It is good for app store ratings but only tracks the top 300 apps and is not a recommendation engine.  Hat-tip to our own Kevin May for telling me about this one.
  • Do you know of any other app search/discovery/recommendation sites?
  • Is it just me or is Appolicious one of the best start-up names you have come across? I love it (although PaidContent does not agree)
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Tim Hughes

About the Writer :: Tim Hughes

Tim Hughes is an online travel industry executive who has been blogging since June 2006 at the Business of Online Travel (the BOOT).

The BOOT covers analysis of online travel industry trends, consumer and company behaviour and broader online/web activity of interest to online travel companies (with a bias towards Tim’s home markets of Asia and Australasia and with the odd post on consuming and loving travel thrown in).

In late-2010 the BOOT clocked its 1,000th post, 200,000th visitor and 300,000th page view.In his work life he is the CEO of Getaway Lounge - a premium travel deal site based in Australia.

Tim has worked for both Orbtitz and Expedia. Prior to the travel industry Tim was a commercial lawyer and venture capitalist. Tim’s views are his alone and not necessarily the views of Getaway Lounge or any of its investors.

 

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  1. The joys and pitfalls of the iTunes appstore for travel apps | Tnooz

    […] Perhaps one of the most common complaints about the Apple iTunes appstore is that it is difficult to actually find applications, such is its poor directory system. […]

     
  2. Part Two of Two - Two missing pieces from the mobile revolution jigsaw | Tnooz

    […] As I said in part one, 2010 is Year of the App. Record breaking numbers of apps were developed and downloaded in 2010, transforming mobile phones from messaging devices with somewhat functional browsers to internet platforms trying to challenge the desktop as the primary online access device. […]

     
  3. Daniele Beccari

    Another similar app is AppsFire, which makes phone to phone sharing a much cooler process. So cool, that im fact Apple is not approving their new version. After all this is a closed and private ecosystem.

    On the other hand there are multiple Android stores and sites helping you discover apps. The issue here is fragmentation. We need a meta-app-search!

     
  4. steve sherlock

    good breakdown Tim of the search issue.

    wom has has obviously had to bridge the gap in the meantime, especially for novel apps. i only heard about foursquare and gowalla late last year during a “look at me and my iphone apps session” (which i gladly participated in)

    also think the most relevance business models will come to the fore. many apps have the initial novelty factor, for example layer search is cool how it includes gowalla spots in the virtual later, but still the technology will need to marry with a model to solve problems, get funding and thrive.

    im looking forward to the second part “inter-operability and multi-tasking”. actually was surprised to see that the ipad doesn’t have multi-tasking between aps. (or at least i couldn’t find the function) presumably that will come after the new iphone OS goes live.

     
    • Tim

      @steve – thanks (as always) for comments. You raise an interesting point on how apps have a real challenge in getting repeat usage. We see this constantly in the facebook app world where everybody is using a particular app and then everybody suddenly stops using it.

       
  5. Stuart

    Appolicious is a good site and has moved from being just a “hole filler” to creating a community it its own right. Though I think it has a ways to go before reaching critical mass.

    It says much about just how broken the AppStore is as far as search (close to useless), reviews (fake/paid for and couponed) and the “Apple recommendation” process (utterly unfathomable) is that sites like this have sprouted to fill a desperately needed void.

     
  6. Hiconomics

    There are rumors that Apple is planning on building a broader and more comprehensive App Search Engine…

    http://bit.ly/cr5Fg5
    and
    http://bit.ly/cNvsQi

     
  7. Tweets that mention Part One of Two - Two missing pieces from the mobile revolution jigsaw | Tnooz -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Social Mapping, Kevin May. Kevin May said: GREAT ANALYSIS – Part One of Two – Two missing pieces from the mobile revolution jigsaw http://bit.ly/c1WY8Q [Tnooz via @timothychughes] […]

     
 
 

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