The following is a guest post by Swati Panwar, Content Writer at Gamentio. She is a technical writer by day and an insatiable reader at night. Her love for online games could be seen in her write-ups. Besides this, she is also fond of poetry. She’s extremely empathic towards animals and when not writing, she could be found cuddling with her cat.
Launching and marketing a game app is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some terribly fail to make a mark while others mint billions of dollars purely because of the fact they were able to devise a perfect marketing strategy for their app which paved a way for it to gain popularity over the years.
Each app is different and so should be the marketing strategy to promote it. Gaming apps are completely different from the service based apps and that is why a unique marketing strategy needs to be developed for such apps. Moreover, if your game is a social game like Rummy card game or a role playing game you need to make sure your app doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
Marketing is certainly not just one secret formula but a variety of things done concurrently. Here, we will try to enlighten you about a few techniques which could come in handy to promote your intuitive game app.
Keeping these pointers in mind you should decide whether you want to earn or grow your user base and this decision should drive you towards the right revenue model for your app. The different kinds of revenue model that you can adapt are as follows :
If you’re going for a paid app then always remember that it is very easy to drop a high price rather than raising the amount at a later stage. Hence, choose the price of your app very carefully.
Also, while deciding the revenue model of your game app always ask this question to yourself at every stage “Will my monetization strategy cover my future development costs ?”
Knowem is one such site where you search multiple sites for the domain name at once.
Marketing is not a one-time thing, it has to go on and on changing according to the circumstances of the market and competitor’s marketing strategy. However, a constant focus on a few things will help you maintain a place in the market.
It happens all too often.
The office phone rings, and on the other end is an app developer with the same story. “I worked with these ‘app marketing experts’ and I have nothing to show for it. They don’t even pick up the phone when I call any more!”
As it becomes harder and harder to succeed in the app space, developers desperate to do anything to promote their apps are all too often fleeced by savvy sales people at agencies that are promising the world and in the end offering very little. As more of these so-called agencies pop up, I feel that as the old guys on the app marketing block it is our obligation to point out some of the red flags and ethical grey areas that we see more and more of our competitors engaging in. With that in mind- here are my tips for spotting a poor quality marketing firm, or one that is simply in it to take your money.
Avoid any agency that has app marketing “packages” listed on their website
Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. You do not market a game in the same way that you market a shopping app or social network. Having a shopping cart of services on your website indicates to me two things – the first is that you have a template of services and you keep trying to do the same thing over and over no matter who the client is, and second that you will take on any client as long as they can pay your fee. Why is that bad? Because the PR side of marketing is built on relationships, and relationships with journalists require a certain level of quality control. If I pitched Rob LeFebvre at Cult of Mac your Tetris clone… he would laugh in my face, or worst of all for an agency that relies on communication… he would stop paying attention to my emails and miss out on the high quality apps and stories I sent his way.
Beware the ASO “Expert”
This statement may well offend a few people in the app marketing space. Frankly, there are too many people running around the internet calling themselves “ASO Experts”. ASO is nothing like SEO. With SEO there are literally dozens of tweaks and changes that you can adjust and monitor that will affect how your website shows up in search. In iTunes… there are three. (Yes, there are more than three things that determine how your app shows up in search, but there are only three that you as the developer have direct control over). App name, keywords and company name. Other factors like app store reviews and number of downloads you are getting are vastly important – and there are marketing tactics that you can use to help those variables, but most everything you need to know about keywords for app store search you can learn from a couple of hours of research online.
Don’t mistake this for me saying that ASO is not important. It is. Search optimization is a foundational tactic in app marketing that needs to be performed correctly in order for your app to succeed. It will not however, cause your app to succeed. There are tens of thousands of app doing ASO “correctly” – this will only get you onto the playing field. It will not win the game for you.
You get what you pay for
Appency has never been the lowest cost agency out there, and we do not ever plan to be. Our team is made up of professional marketers, the kind with degrees in marketing and years of experience working with apps and brands and have a deep understanding of the variables and tactics that make the difference between success and failure.
The median salary for a publicist in the United States is around $40,000 a year – often more for a marketing generalist that can handle all of the various aspects of marketing for a product. That salary does not take into account all of the overhead that goes into having employees. When you hire an agency, you as essentially hiring a team of people to do the job instead of having to hire that person in house. When you hire Appency, you get access to people with experience in public relations, ASO, social media, advertising, video production, on-boarding tactics, graphic design, and more. You may not get them for 40 hours per week like you would an in-house person, but you are getting access to a team of people that cover a variety of skills you would be hard pressed to find in a single individual.
On top of that, good agencies have access to some expensive tools that it would not make sense for you as a developer to have to purchase on your own because an agency can spread the cost of those tools out over a number of clients. Media contact databases, social media management tools, data extraction tools and more all cost a pretty penny.
All this to say that someone charging you $1,000 a month to solve your app marketing needs is most likely not putting in the time or effort to your account that they need to be, or they are simply ripping you off knowing that you have very little recourse to come after them when they fail and throw up their hands with a “well, we tried”.
App review websites will not make your app successful
In the early days of the app store, there were literally hundreds of app review websites, and interest in this new app world was high enough that these sites received enough traffic to keep them alive with ad dollars. That world is gone.
Over the years, we have watched the majority of these sites fail, to the point where there are less than 10 sites that focus solely on reviewing apps (caveat – not counting gaming sites), that have enough traffic to drive any decent amount of downloads. Not to say that many of those low traffic sites are not still running – many of them now work on a pay-to-play model, happy to take your money to post a review on their site that no one will ever see.
Before paying for a review – do your research. Ask for a sites Google Analytics report. Check their Alexa ranking. Look at other reviews the site has done and see how much conversation is being generated on each article. Look up the last few apps they reviewed in AppAnnie and see how that app is doing. See if the app reviews are praising apps that do not deserve praise. All of this will give you a better picture of if the cost the site is asking is worth it.
The lie of “guaranteed” coverage
Which brings us to the lie of guaranteed coverage. Ethical journalism cannot be bought, and sites that have high quality, high volume traffic do not tend to sell coverage. When someone guarantees you coverage, they are generally saying “if we do not get coverage, we will buy cheap reviews on sites that get no traffic to cover our obligation and not have to give you back your money”. Not to say that all guarantees of coverage do this. Some agencies may be so confidant in their relationships that they will put themselves on the line, but before you fall for the guarantee trap – get an idea of what size of site they are guaranteeing you. To be fair – Appency does offer guaranteed coverage, but only for a very specific type of PR outreach called survey focused PR, and when we guarantee it, we are guaranteeing coverage on a major (top 20 online traffic) site like AOL, MSN, Huffington Post, etc.
Cheap downloads do not create loyal app users
This goes back a bit to the “you get what you pay for” point. I spent some time talking on the phone the other day to a marketer for a brand who was very interested in our expertise and full service approach to app marketing. As we got to advertising – he asked me that dreaded question. “How much will I pay for installs?”.
First of all… let me say this. Unless you are attempting burst marketing, DOWNLOADS DO NOT MATTER. They don’t. Stop thinking about downloads as the end goal. The end goal of app marketing is USERS. The most successful app business models (freemium and ad driven apps) will not generate any revenue from downloads unless the downloads actually start using your app. Even pay-to-download apps, while they do make money from the download itself, are hurt by poor quality downloads over the long term.
Which brings me back to the question of “How much will I pay for installs”.
My general answer to that question is to start with the industry average cost of Facebook driven installs in the United States, which means the answer is $2-$4 per install. I use Facebook as my point of reference because it has high quality traffic and good targeting options at a cost that tends to be lower that other well targeted ads like Google AdWords for mobile.
I follow up the $2-$4 with the caveat that at the beginning of an ad campaign, costs tend to range on the higher side and start to go down as targets are narrowed down by the data that we receive and Facebook works on its own optimization. I even mention that its possible to go under the $2, but that is mostly for broad stroke apps like games with a very wide audience that does not need a ton of targeting.
These are facts. This is the cost of a decent quality download.
“Well…. so and so told me that they could get me download for a dollar”.
In the end… this person will not receive a proposal from me. It is a battle of lies that I do not want to get into, and a high quality app marketing proposal and plan takes a decent amount of time from the person writing the proposal that I do not want to waste on a client who has made it clear that all that matters to them is the lowest cost per install.
Cheap downloads are available, but in the vast majority of cases, the quality of the download you will get for the dollar range are so poor that none of those downloads will turn into users, and you have just spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a lie.
This may piss a few people off
I will be the first to say that there is an exception to every rule. There are going to be a couple of agencies that use the “package A, package B, package C” on their website that are trying to do the right thing. There are paid app reviews that are on the higher quality side (especially in the world of Mommy Bloggers). There are people who do ASO that are worth what they are asking you to pay them assuming you simply don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, and there are low cost downloads that can be found on occasion. What we ask is that you as a app developer do your research before you spend a single penny on app marketing. Ask the questions. Know the red flags to look for and when you finally make your decision, do it knowing that you are informed.
On a daily basis the Appency team gets emails from frustrated app developers looking for help solving their app marketing problems. We have spent the last seven years fighting an ever more challenging battle for our clients against an app store that is flooded with apps on a daily basis (to the tune of 1.5 million available apps in iTunes) With every passing day success gets harder to reach for the average mid-sized developer.
One of the first things we do when an app that is already live in the app store comes to us, is take a quick peek at it in the App Store. Even a ten second glance at an app’s page can identify some fundamental issues and give us great information. We can see when it was launched, what its ratings are, how an apps screenshots and descriptions look, etc. Even an app that has poor quality app search search optimization (ASO) can be found because the developer has given us the name of the app to pull it up.
At least that’s what we thought.
Something happened to me today that was a first. Something that I feel is a dire omen that app developers need to be acutely aware of.
I went to the app store, typed in the app’s exact name…. and it did not show up in search.
I am not saying it did not come up in the top 10 or 50 search results. The app didn’t show up AT ALL.
I figured there must be a mistake. Maybe the app wasn’t live yet. Maybe it was live in other countries but not in the US app store where I was searching. I went to the app developers web page and found a direct link to the app and clicked on it. The link took me right to the app, which was definitely in the US app store. Just to double check I searched again for the app name.
I scrolled through all 100 results in the iPhone app search looking for the hard to miss icon.
Zip. Zero. Zilch. It was like the app did not exist.
Now, it is understandable that there may be over 100 apps that use reasonably similar search terms that may be doing better than this app. However this was a perfect name match search. I was looking for a specific app in the app store and I could not find it.
At least Apple had some advice for me:
“Use more specific search terms”.
Like what? What is more specific then a perfect match on the apps name? (And I can tell you that the words “Tomato” and “Pie” were not part of this apps name like search result number 95 might suggest). The 100 apps that appeared in search were almost all games – while the app we were searching for was not, it was an app for tracking a baby’s developmental progress. It took me searching for the app development companies name for the app to finally show up in a search result, something no regular consumer would do if they were not desperately trying to find the app. Most customers would have given up long before this.
Even more interesting…. the exact same search in Google Play discovered the app in position #14. Not only that, but of the 13 apps that were shown before it, only one of them was a game. The other 12 were apps that were also related to an infant’s developmental progress.
The Death of the Small Developer
ASO is the most basic, foundational level marketing an app developer can do. If your app does not show up in search results in the app store, hardly anything else matters. This is even more important for a small app developer that has little to no money to spend on expensive app install ads, versus a large app developer who can jump start their apps life with direct download ads. Even good public relations for an app, a less expensive solution than advertising, will do little to help an app that is not appearing in search results as our experience has shown us that many downloads from a user reading a review or story online tend to come from the user going to their phones and desktop computers and performing a search for that apps name.
Any ASO expert will tell you that the most important factor in determining an apps search results is the apps name. Everything else, like keywords and app ratings are supposed to be secondary to that fundamental principle. If Apple cannot show in the first page of search results an app with an exact name match to what you searched for, then Apple’s search is broken and in need of a major overhaul. While I know that Apple has less experience in search than their main competitor Google, it seems like something this basic should be a given. There is no excuse for Apple presenting close to 100 games when searching for a baby tracking app when Google Play quickly shows you a list of apps that actually match what you were searching for.
For small app developers, many marketing efforts are hard to sustain. Public relations (PR) can help a launch, but later in an apps life without major news PR becomes less and less of an option. Advertising is expensive, and even for large developers achieving a positive return on investment is near impossible (This does not mean you shouldn’t advertise, this is only one of the reasons and I am happy to talk to you more, just drop us an note).
Fixing the Problem
Yes, this app developer has done ASO poorly. Their name is generic enough that many other apps are going to be grabbing onto the exact keywords in the name and using them as a part of their name or in their hidden keywords field. Saving Apple fixing their search, there are a few things this and other app developers in a similar situation should consider.
Supporting the developer is the best way for the App Store to make money. As it gets harder and harder for developers to succeed, they will move to other platforms that help them pay the bills and keep the lights on. App store search is not a small problem – it affects every app in the store, and needs to be addressed before the entire independent developer ecosystem collapses.
I wanted to add that the search being done is on the iTunes desktop. The app DOES show up in search when you do your search via the iPhone or iPad, in or about position #20. While I believe that there are more apps downloaded from the phone than from the desktop, I do not believe that the desktop traffic is so little as for it to not matter to the developer. Unfortunately, data on if a download comes from desktop or mobile is difficult if not impossible to find. I have reached out to SimilarWeb.com to see if they might have data around this and will post an update when I hear back.
WASHINGTON, January 21, 2016 – Today Clutch published an updated report on leading social media marketing agencies. The research identifies firms with an outstanding record of client satisfaction in social media marketing among other digital marketing services.
The selected firms are: Project Bionic, Friendemic, LYFE Marketing, Social Vantage, Viral In Nature, SociallyIn, Bad Rhino, True Voice Media, Single Grain, Appency, EMSI Public Relations, Intrapromote, The Mechanism, Shelton Interactive, Booyah Advertising, EnVeritas Group.
“Social media marketing increases brand recognition and inbound traffic, giving businesses more opportunities to convert those leads into projects,” stated Eleonora Israele, Analyst at Clutch. “The selected firms have a proven record of creating social media marketing campaigns that deliver results to their clients.”
Clutch analysts performed a thorough assessment of social media companies from all over the country. The top agencies were evaluated on market presence, company experience, industry recognition, and client feedback among other criteria.
Clutch’s effort to identify leading social media marketing agencies remains ongoing, and the firm encourages companies to participate in future research updates. Upcoming publications will highlight SEO companies in Canada and the UK.
Clutch is a Washington, DC-based B2B research firm that identifies top service providers and solutions firms that deliver results for their clients. The Clutch methodology is an innovative research process melding the best of traditional B2B research and newer consumer review services. To date, Clutch has researched and reviewed 1000+ companies spanning 50+ market segments.
Google held its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco last week, and their dozens of announcements and keynotes made some major waves with new products, features, and technology – especially tools to make apps better. We’ve broken down the big announcements to let you know what’s new and cool in the world of Google, and what we’re excited about.
First and foremost, Google debuted its new operating system, Android M. The new OS will simplify user experience, and make Android devices smarter and more powerful. With the “Now on Tap” feature (a play on the fact that users can tap to access Google Now instead of swiping), users can get relevant information with contextual searches; Now on Tap will understand the email you’re reading or the person you’re referring to without having to ask.
Android M also changes how permissions work; users will now be asked to give an app permission to access a tool as it is needed, rather than on installation, meaning apps don’t have to ask permission based only on trust. Finally, Google hopes to streamline web interactions in apps with new support for Chrome-based browsing within apps.
All these seemingly small developments help push Android forward to a new level of functionality, and we hope lots of users will be able to catch on. See a more detailed analysis of Android M’s features here.
Taking the place of Google Wallet, Android Pay seeks to become your new choice for payment on the go. Similar to Apple Pay, Google’s new system can integrate with some phones fingerprint reader for easy and secure payment on the go. According to The Verge, Google says 7 out of 10 Android users are set up to use the new system to buy from one of the 700,000 merchants ready to accept payment on the platform.
In one of the more bold moves of the conference, Google launched its new Photos app, offering unlimited cloud storage for all users to kick it off. This is a huge announcement for them, and the offer of free storage is a shot across the bow of Apple’s iCloud. Google Photos is more than just storage, and comes a whole new set of organization tools that aim to make Google Photos a household name. This app allows unlimited storage for up to 16MP for images, and full 1080p for video, and offers compression options as well. In addition, Google Photos automatically organizes photos with a grouping feature, so users don’t have to label or tag them, and can search for them later.
Though many of the larger announcements targeted consumers, Google also unveiled some powerful new tools to tempt developers and marketers to Android. With their new Universal App Campaigns, advertisers can now reach users across Google Search, YouTube, AdMob, and Google Play, all with the same campaign. This has the potential to change advertising and deepen the reach of apps. Another analytics update allows developers and marketers to track ad performance across networks with metrics like LTV and retention rather than relying on third-party APIs for that same information. With these robust new tools, we expect to see a surge in development and advertising for Android apps in the near future.
While these are only a few of the really awesome and innovative announcements from this year’s I/O, we think they will be the most significant and disruptive in the current mobile space. By offering interesting new features not only for users, but for developers and marketers as well, Google has made its OS competitive and innovative. With iOS and Android perennially competing for market share, these developments shed a positive light on the future of Android, and gives hope its users for a better and smarter OS. If you want all the details on the smaller announcements, check this summary article on The Verge.
Nintendo certainly stirred a lot of interest – and nostalgia – a month ago when they announced they had purchased mobile developer DeNA and would be expanding into the mobile gaming industry (the smartphone and tablet mobile gaming industry, that is) in the near future. Now that the dust has cleared, where do we stand?
Nintendo may have a new reason to be concerned about their infant mobile department: SEGA just removed Sonic 4: Episodes 1 and 2 from the App Store, and may be removing more later; an official blog post says certain (unnamed) games “no longer meet [SEGA] standards.”
Why should Nintendo worry about SEGA? Because without caution, Nintendo could follow in SEGA’s footsteps. Both are standards in the gaming world who pioneered mobile gaming in the truest sense of the word: Handheld devices that could go with the gamer were a remarkable invention, and cemented games in popular culture.
SEGA publishes its mobile games under three publisher accounts: SEGA, SEGA CORPORATION, and SEGA TOYS CO, LTD. Since they began publishing in July 2008, they’ve published 118 games, some paid, some free, some free with in-app purchases. Over time, they’ve removed 60 apps for various reasons, but most of their apps have done fairly well in the App Store.
Even though Nintendo is just adding mobile to its portfolio – and doing it by acquiring DeNA, rather than building their own in-house department – we believe it will ultimately succeed. Here’s why:
Pokémon, Legend of Zelda, Mario and Luigi – these franchises have been around for decades and aren’t going anywhere soon. Nintendo understands the value of its properties, and it has shown that it’s capable of continuing them on for a new generation.
While Nintendo has plenty of games that require hours of work, they also have more casual games like Animal Crossing and even Pokémon that can be played for a few minutes at a time. This fits in with the time that most mobile gamers want to spend in-app, and it means that Nintendo doesn’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel – or modify an existing IP to fit a franchise (Flappy Pikmen or Starfox Candy Crush, anyone)?
Nintendo games are well-known for not losing their value as they age; games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Super Mario 3D World have very consistent pricing years after launch when games like Call of Duty and Saints Row quickly fade into the background, available for purchase, new or used, at a fraction of their original price. Nintendo games simply do not lose value.
We’re confident Nintendo can succeed in the mobile arena, despite the numerous pitfalls. They’re more in touch with their audience than SEGA, and have been able to make the jump to the next generation of gamers by constantly updating games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. They’ll need to figure out a viable monetization strategy for mobile that won’t alienate their fan base – a group of consumers who are very willing to pay a premium for content. If they can link their new mobile content with existing games on Nintendo hardware, they could use mobile as a promotional tool (much like Sony did with their mobile game Run Sackboy! Run!, which launched prior to the larger launch of Little Big Planet 3).
We recently received some love from Clutch.com and wanted to share it with everyone. Appency was named one of Clutch’s Top App Marketing Agencies of 2015. Dozens of factors including company experience, client references, industry recognition and market presence were considered by the company when making their selections.
The Top Mobile App Marketing Agencies list was also based on a Leader’s Matrix that Clutch put together. On one axis “the ability to deliver” was measured and on the other, an agency’s “focus” was tracked. Thus the matrix was broken in four quadrants, Market Leaders, Proven, Emerging, and Niche. The full graphic can be seen below.
Our industry experience combined with mobile app focus pins Appency in the Market Leaders quadrant of the Leaders Matrix. While we focus our efforts (and have become experts) on mobiles apps specifically, our digital marketing tactics and strategies could be applied to many other products.
Clutch is a Washington DC-based research and review firm that serves as a resource for start-ups, mid-market and large enterprises looking to purchase professional services or software. They aim to connect these buyers with the best company or service available.
We at Appency sincerely appreciate this recognition and hope to continue earning such praises. We love to hearing positive feedback from clients and partners, so this made us feel especially warm and fuzzy.
The techie game was strong yesterday in the realm of outrageous April Fools’ Jokes, proving even developers have a great sense of humor. We’re actually bummed some of these aren’t real… I mean, a Tinder for Uber drivers?! That’s pure genius! Here’s a look at what else gave our office a case of the giggles.
Groupon offers cat cab services for April Fools’ Day
Also known as Grøüber, this transportation service that lets you order cars driven by cats. The future is meow.
Google introduces dial-up mode that slows down your internet
This exciting slow technology will give you “more time to load the dishwasher and hug your kids!” Dial up and cuddle up, y’all.
The Selfie Shoe: Look, Ma, No Hands!
“With smartphone docking ports on both feet, the selfie shoes offer a glimpse of a terrifying dystopian future that we hope never actually comes to pass.” Start practicing those high kicks, ladies.
Angry Birds releases a farming game named Agri Birds
“Experience a story of love, loss and farming.” AGRI BIRDS. Our interns from UC Davis, the farm of the University of California, are particularly excited for the game.
PlayStation Flow lets you literally dive into your games
“When you get to a swimming environment in your game, simply pause the game… then head to your nearest swimming pool and dive right back into the action.” Who’s ready for an immersive experience?
“Algorithms translate your steps, distance, heart rate, movements, active time, and idle time into roleplaying metaphors to challenge and encourage you.”
ThinkGeek’s EnCounter – Wearable Interactive Quest takes wearables to a whole new level
The tech world is obsessed with wearables, but this EnCounter promises a more fun way to get your walking done. Roll for a crit!
We know these are jokes, but… wow. Some of these April Fool’s jokes might just be crazy enough to work. Be sure to check out the rest of the crazy tech stunts from yesterday.
Did anyone pranksters get you? Share your stories in the comments below!
Jayla Lee is an assistant account coordinator at Appency who loves April 1: Lots of laughs and closer to spring? Count her in.
What happens when over 150 people meet beneath the Tower Bridge with cameras in hand and Temple Coffee in the other? Don’t be alarmed: You’re probably just at an Instameet, the most epic photography event in your community. And when you find yourself climbing a tree or staring out into the sunrise because a few photographers asked you to, then you know it’s the real deal.
On the weekend of March 21 and 22, 2015, all kinds of Instagrammers participated in the World Wide Instameet 11. Instameets are planned to connect local creatives and help people build community, explore, and share their art with the world by using the official hashtag #WWIM11 (and locally via #WWIM11Sac).
There were quite a few meets going on in the Sacramento area during the WWIM11 weekend. I went to the one that started at 7:00 am on a Saturday. Some called it crazy; I called it worth it, especially when it involves a beautiful sunrise and doubled as a fundraiser for Charity Water. (The free Temple Coffee and Bakers Donuts helped too!) This particular meet was hosted by Faith Mari, Dinelia Noel, Society Church, and City Scout Sac, all ‘grammers and organizations that I definitely fangirl over.
In this safe place, everyone is celebrated as a story waiting to be told. Everyone brings something valuable to the table. It’s humbling to connect with world travelers, adventure enthusiasts, hand-letterers, baristas, designers, musicians, and bloggers (just to name a few), all in one place because we have a shared love of creativity. Better yet, how awesome to see things from someone else’s perspective. I mean, how can the guy next to me make his coffee cup look like a superhero, while I made mine look like… a coffee cup? It’s pretty inspiring, to say the least.
It’s no secret that I’m an Instagram enthusiast and tech-lover for life. But when we separate likes and followers from our humanity, we’re able to really meet a person face-to-face (no clicking required) and look them in the eyes when we speak the words from our heart (rather than sending them ten of my favorite heart-eyes emojis). It’s the little connections we make in these meets that turn the bigger picture into something grand for our lives.
Jayla Lee is an Assistant Account Coordinator at Appency, and loves grammin’ about her adventures. (Does the Farmers’ Market count?)
When computers were the size of rooms, being “into computers” took a great deal of dedication; you had to learn how all the components fit together, how to diagnose problems on your own, and how to replace parts. Computers were not something to be taken lightly. But now that computers are literally lightweight, carried around in watches and tablets, the barrier to entry is much, much lower.
In days past, to share an internet video you had to download it, burn it to a CD, physically hand it to a friend, and hope they had the right software to read the CD and play the video. Now, sending a video takes about three taps, so simple a child could do it.
Back in the day of the nineties and early 2000’s, using an Apple product meant you were special; you chose something outside the mainstream. This special community bonded at events like Macworld and online at places like TUAW. After the advent of the iPod and, more importantly, the iPhone, the Apple community became less and less of a community as tech became a lifestyle auxiliary, not a lifestyle itself. People were content to merely be consumers rather than consumer-brand ambassadors; the teenagers who craved an iPhone wanted one because of its cultural status, not for its computing power.
The business side of this shift away from the tech lifestyle is finally becoming clear. IDG’s Macworld | iWorld Expo shut down after its 2014 show, citing lack of interest. More community-focuses sites like TUAW and Joystiq were rolled into the broader “tech” site of Engadget at the end of January; the parent company AOL said they were “simplifying the portfolio of brands.”
On the consumer side, App Annie’s 2014 retrospective had a great deal of insight into the kind of apps that experienced the most growth. Importantly, some of the apps that had the greatest success in 2014 were messaging apps, travel and transportation apps (many of which landed new partnerships and investments), and mobile streaming apps (which both increased downloads and increased in the number of new streaming options from content creators like the NFL and MLB).
People are downloading apps not just to have them and pass time, but to access real-world tools. Consumers want to send messages through WhatsApp, get a Lyft to their Airbnb, then watch Netflix, and they want it all to happen seamlessly.
As tech moves away from a niche market and becomes integrated into every-day life for everyone—not just an elite few in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco—the technology we choose will have to be higher-quality, with better user experiences. As tech becomes subsumed by overall consumer lifestyles, rather than being its own lifestyle, we’ll all benefit, but first we have to adapt.
Sara Kewin is an account executive at Appency. She is not wondering where her hoverboard is, because that sounds unstable and scary.