Invest in Mobile Applications for the Right Reasons.

While it’s exciting to see so many companies making the choice to invest in developing mobile applications, the truth is that most applications fail because companies invest in them for the wrong reasons.

August 1, 2011

With smartphone adoption steadily increasing in the US, the days of convincing large companies to consider how mobile might impact their businesses are coming to an end. As businesses learn to plan across multiple digital channels, more and more companies now explicitly request that a native mobile application be developed as an integral part of their overall digital strategy. While it’s exciting to see so many companies making the choice to invest in developing mobile applications, the truth is that most applications fail because companies invest in them for the wrong reasons.

"The truth is that most applications fail because companies invest in them for the wrong reasons."

When asked why they want to build an app, one of the most common responses companies give is that an app would be a great way to raise brand awareness and engage new users. Any tactic meant to raise awareness should revolve around reach. The unfortunate truth is that native mobile apps do not have reach. Even apps backed with the marketing budget to ensure a place closer to the front of the download curve won’t reach that many new customers. Apple and Google have made significant improvements in the app acquisition workflow, but getting an app on your phone is still a significant hurdle. First, a user has to find the app in the App Store, then download it to their phone, and finally invest the time to learn exactly what the app does. More often than not, it’s the existing customers who already know and love your brand that will make the effort to download your app.

While successful mobile apps can and do improve brand awareness, drive engagement, and bring in incremental revenue, the primary reason for building these apps should stem from long-term goals. One of the best reasons to build a native app is to help extend a company’s core value proposition in a compelling new way. Take, for example, our work on HBO GO. HBO already creates programming that their subscribers know and love. The right application for HBO needed only extend this core offering to mobile devices in order to let subscribers watch HBO shows wherever and whenever they want. All those people who love HBO now love HBO that much more. The result? HBO GO made its way to the top-ranked free app in the App Store on its first day of release, and received one million downloads in its first week.

Mobile is growing by leaps and bounds, but it’s a constantly changing space, and identifying the exact way to leverage mobile can be challenging. One thing that's certain is that there's no longer a question regarding if you should invest in mobile, but when.

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