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 email@example.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.
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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.