App weariness is slowly infiltrating the nation's psyche. According to a recent report by Deloitte, almost one in three (31%) of new smartphone users in the UK do not download any apps on their device in a typical month, an indication of the waning appetite for apps from smartphone owners. With wearable technology quickly emerging as the next battleground for consumer attention, the app weariness trend will make worrying reading for anyone trying to launch the next 'must-have' application on these devices. This makes for a fascinating dichotomy; fewer people are downloading apps, yet the number of devices on which apps can be downloaded is increasing, and more and more apps hit the market each day.
Market saturation drives app-athy
App weariness is born, in part, of the sheer volume of applications available across all the devices we use every day. In this saturated market, most people will tend to download the applications they are most familiar with or the ones given the most positive reviews by peers. This has made the app market hugely competitive as more and more applications fight for supremacy. At the same time we are also firmly in the grip of the zombie app - applications that prove useful for a limited time but are left unused in the longer-term. With so many options in so many different app stores, it is increasingly difficult for applications to maintain a level of individuality to stand out from the crowd.
Wearables will add another layer of complexity for businesses and developers. As their popularity increases, app stores for these devices will become increasingly buoyant with a multitude of entertainment, education and productivity focused applications offering real value to the user. The biggest requirement for businesses and individuals creating apps for this new wearables sector will therefore be speed to market. Businesses, professional developers and citizen developers will place greater emphasis on being the first to market, in contrast to the previous practice of months or even year-long development cycles. The apps will not only need to be innovative and user friendly, but must be early entrants and continuously updated.
Advances in app development mean that it is easier than ever to design, build and deploy an app in weeks rather than months. With app weary consumers, increased competition and a new area of devices in wearable tech, speed is of the essence.
Iteration is King: Fast pace, high quality
The key to speed to market and maintaining the standard required of a successful app lies in continuous iteration. Companies and developers looking to capitalise on the opportunity offered by wearable technology should focus on fast deployment, which can also help to gauge the level of interest in the app and determine whether or not it has potential. The hard work starts from this point. The app should be continuously improved and updated based on real-time user data and feedback in order to increase its usefulness and benefit. This will be particularly important for the wearable sector, which is relatively new to most people.
As the apathy towards novelty and frivolous applications increases, the pace of change, adaptation and improvement of applications will become more important than ever. As a result, those creating apps for wearable devices will value speed to market and ease of iteration over all else in the coming years. Today, companies, developers and ordinary people have the potential to develop the next must-have application. App development is no longer just the preserve of the computer 'expert'. Ease of development and speed of market are the only things that matter in today's environment. Wearable devices will certainly be a game changer in the app sector, whilst the dichotomy of app weariness and increased devices is less pronounced, so it is time to embrace live iteration in order to maximise the potential offered by being first to market.