A World Where Browsers Are A Thing Of The Past

by Manish Bhargava October 8th, 2012 

mobile-apps

Mobile Apps will make web browsers a thing of the past. If you think I am crazy, give me few minutes and let me reason this out.

Do you have a smartphone? According to Magid's 2012 mobile study, smartphones are now used by 58% of American consumers age 12-64. Among younger age groups that figure rises to a significant 76% (age under 44).

So odds are that you do have a smartphone. Regardless of what smartphone you have, you have a few apps downloaded and use them on a regular basis to perform simple tasks like pay bills online, check weather, look for best local restaurants, buy movie tickets and so on.

62% of the smartphone owners have downloaded apps on their devices in addition to what comes pre-configured. In the recent iPhone 5 release keynote, Tim Cook mentioned that on an average iPhone users have 100+ apps installed.

Ask yourself what you were doing before you had the smartphone to accomplish these same tasks. If your answer to this question is "I used to browse" then you already are on the bandwagon of using the browser less and less to perform your day to day activities. I was not surprise with the recent BI Intelligence's Mobile In-depth study which says that Americans spend more time per day on apps that they do on the web - both desktop and mobile combined.

Enough stats! I personally have an iPhone as well as an iPad. When I am done with my day job and go home, I usually go to my iPad and open up Zite, my personalized magazine that I check and read multiple times a week.

Before I owned iPad, I would open up my laptop, and start visiting the usual destinations sites to get the latest scoop. I haven't done so in a while. Why? Because I don't feel the need to go to each of those sites and sift through for relevant information.. Instead I depend on Zite to show me relevant articles, blogs and other content I'm interested in. I simply set my interests and it in turn pulls relevant articles from various sources. They do a darn good job at it. There are other impressive personal magazine apps like Flipboard and Pulse.

As consumers spend more time using mobile Apps,  they spend an equal amount of time less on web browsers. Is your business ready for such shift? Do you have an App for your business yes? If you are on the fence, here is what you can ask yourself -

  • Does your business have something to offer that attracts repeat visitation? If yes, its time for you to build an App.
  • Does your competition or your supplier have an App? If yes, its time for you to have one as well.
  • Do you want to build good professional referring eco-system? By that I mean, if you highlight other local businesses within your app, there is a good chance that they will in turn recommend you when their consumers look for services you offer. For example, lets say you are a real estate lawyer. Perhaps in your App, you can highlight recommended real estate agent, real estate appraiser, mortgage agent, contractors and so on.
  • 'Cool' factor – Do you want to brag about – "We have an app too"? If yes, build one. It could add to your reputation.

Another thing to think about – Do you frequently author new content? Is your content being syndicated to personalized reader apps? One can syndicate to Zite, Flipboard and other similar apps for free. To get your content to Flipboard, all you need to do is create and submit a Flipboard optimized RSS feed. For Pulse, you will need to submit your content details at Pulse Connect. For Zite, send an email to publishers@zite.com and ask them to index your blog site. In return you will not only get new viewers but also highly engaged viewers.

Of course web browsers are not going away anytime soon. Its still a few years away, but its surely happening. The big question is – is your business prepared for this movement? I'd be interested in hearing your experiences and what you think the future of browsers is.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Getting More Traffic for Your Mobile Site: A Mix of Content, SEO and Social Media

Manish Bhargava

Manish Bhargava is Director within the Product Management group for LexisNexis® Martindale Hubbell®, Law Firm Marketing Solutions, where his responsibilities include researching latest web technologies and use them to develop online solutions for small law firms and solo practitioners. You can follow Manish on twitter @manish_bhargava or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/manishbhargava.

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6 Responses to “A World Where Browsers Are A Thing Of The Past”

  1. Garrett says:

    You make a VERY good point here about the current shift going on with apps and browsing. I guess I had not really thought about it before, but there's no doubt there's a lot less random browsing going on as people have focused apps that lead them right where they want to go time after time.

    I'm not sure any of my businesses would benefit strongly from an app, but it's certainly something to consider as the digital landscape continues to evolve. Given enough time I'm quite sure that the methods of finding and using quality digital content is going to shift quite dramatically.

  2. Bram says:

    Interesting article and thanks for alerting me to the RSS feed but the advice to people to build apps seems very lightly given.

    That your competition or supplier has an app is no reason at all to make an app as well. Maybe one of the worst reasons possible.

    The cool factor is also a terrible reason.

    Nowhere you mention the cost of developing an app or the how terrible it is for your reputation if the app is bad.

    • @Bram – If your competition has an app, one should explore how your target market is using it. It might give your customer enough reason to ditch you and choose your competition over you. With regards to 'Cool' factor, I am in a business of building web sites for law firms. Imagine the vanity factor of having an app for a law firm. They can have a QR code on their business card. It gives a perception out there that you are on the cutting edge of technology. What you offer within a app is a different story and a challenge by itself. I agree that cost of building an app is a consideration. I am seeing that now a days its becoming pretty inexpensive to build an App. If you want to customize is considerable then its a different story.

  3. Farrah says:

    I don't think we'll be doing away with browsers any time soon, partly because I think there needs to be a transition between computers and other devices before that happens, and even then, many people prefer to have a customized browser on their phone. I think for people that have used computers all their life it will be a little easier to adapt to new technology, but the people who had to transition from paper to computers probably won't want to transition again.

  4. Harlott says:

    Very interesting point indeed. I'm sure the day when mobile users dominate PC users is not much long away from now. My major concern as a webmaster is, does mobile traffic give much conversions?

  5. Mike Dawson says:

    I agree with Farrah. I think it will take a while (a long time) before browsers become 'a thing of the past' redundant (if at all they do). I think most people prefer to use an app instead of using a browser when on a cellphone or a tablet because it is more convenient. On cellular devices, an app makes it easier to accomplish a task – and less time-consuming – than firing up the browser, typing the address and having to settle for pages that aren't optimized for small screens. For instance this is precisely why I use the Twitter app on iPhone, instead of using Twitter on Safari. Having said that, from a business perspective, I do think business should look into getting apps developed for their businesses, for the reasons stated in the article above.