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The appetite for apps

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First off, the basics: what is an app? App stands for “application”. An app is a small application programme – often fulfilling a single task – that you can download to a mobile phone.

Some are games (think Tetris for Generation Y), some are edifying (such as the app Holy Bible, a handy compilation of the 16 different English translations of the Bible, which allows you to set a reading plan for the year). Some are silly (FatBooth adds a few pounds onto your friends’ pictures), and others are just plain rude (iFart… do we really need to explain?).

The point is, the future of apps is clear: the market is booming. Although there are no official estimates on the size of the app economy, mobile advert-serving company AdMob estimated that, last year, around $200m worth of apps were being sold in Apple’s App Store every month – amounting to $2.4bn a year. 

The app economy offers huge commercial opportunities and yet, uncertainty plagues the industry. Should I go for free or paid-for apps? Which platform should I go for? Should I think about developing apps for my business?

“Should you be considering apps? It’s the modern-age equivalent of asking whether you should have a website,” answers Alistair Crane,
CEO of cross-platform app developer Grapple Mobile, and a rising star of the UK’s app industry.

He has a point. Every reputable business has a website these days – from the launderette on the corner to your local Waitrose. Accessing information on-the-go, from your mobile phone, is clearly the next step.

What it comes down to, says Crane, is what you want to do with your business: “If you want to connect with more people, drive more interaction and create more sales, then for sure, you should look at apps. It’s not a ‘should you’ or ‘shouldn’t you’ question. The answer is that you certainly should – but with the right ideas in mind.”

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