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August 5, 2015
Building the Next Killer App
With billions of apps in use — the majority of which are deleted within the first six months after they’re downloaded — we are beginning to understand consumer expectations, usage patterns, and segmentation to guide the next round of app development.

Eighty-eight percent of the 177 minutes Americans spend watching video each day takes place on smartphones or tablets. Nineteen percent of older adults (65+) are watching TV on mobile devices. Mobile use outpaces TV watching. The average person touches his or her smartphone 150 times each day. Seventy-one percent of Bank of America survey responders admitted to sleeping with their smartphones. Millions more check their phone first thing every morning.

The average user spends 30 hours and 15 minutes using apps each month. He or she checks a mobile app every six minutes. So-called “mobile addicts,” who number 280 million people, according to Flurry, launch apps more than 60 times each day. Consumers use apps six times more frequently than websites. According to Compuware, 80 percent of consumers prefer mobile apps to traditional websites and 79 percent make purchase decisions based on using a mobile device, half within one hour of use.

Social and messaging apps, utilities, and productivity apps followed by games, finance, and news are the most popular categories. The only newspaper mobile addicts see is on their phone. The only bank branch they visit is the one in their pocket.

To succeed, an app has to offer immediate utility, convenience, value, and ease of use. Users must feel that an app benefits their lives. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they are eager to get information that is timely, personal, and relevant. Consumers increasingly expect to have everything they need in their pocket.

Smartphones and apps have become a part of everyone’s life. The newest apps featuring simple, easy-to-use interfaces on top of complex tasks are setting and re-setting new standards every day. App interoperability (e.g., Outlook opens and accesses LinkedIn) and apps that leverage the native functions of smartphones and tablets (think GPS) are shaping consumers’ perceptions of app value and utility. If you’ve used Uber or Amazon Prime, you will no longer tolerate long load times, broken graphics, hard-to-find buttons, inoperative links, or other common technical hiccups.

Simple segments appear to be emerging:

iOS vs. Android. iPhone users are slightly more upscale and older. The median iPhone user earns 40 percent more than the median Android user. They use their smartphones nine hours more each month than Android users, reflecting a general pattern among younger users.

Gender. Men dominate travel, transportation, and sports apps. Women lead the way in using photo- and video-sharing apps, weather, games, fitness and health, and social media apps. Women are more likely to access mobile coupons, while men tend to do price comparisons on mobile devices.

Time of Day. Morning app use focuses on news, weather, and travel. Daytime sees spikes in music, business, and finance. Peak social time falls after dinner between 8 and 9 p.m. Late night seems to have a “me time” component where apps for media, gaming, entertainment, and social networks get some play.

Given these stats and emerging patterns, savvy marketers are thinking hard about the value of a virtual private network (VPN) in the pockets of millions of brand fans or followers with the potential to become advocates. Creating a branded app that meets the relevance, speed, utility, and convenience criteria isn’t easy.

But if you can finesse the technical, data, and political issues, you will enable your brand to directly message consumers, craft alerts, publish geo-centric or personalized push notifications, gather immediate feedback and input, collect consumer data, enable couponing or commerce, and have an always-on connection to customers. The key to success is knowing your customer base, leveraging your existing technology infrastructure, and planning for consumers’ next moves.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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