There is no question about it: the mobile app market is a mature one already and fast approaching saturation. Actually, we may have reached that point. There are strong statistical numbers to back up this claim. According to the annual roundup study conducted by Business of Apps:
– The average smartphone owner spends 2.8 hours per day interacting with apps,
– 8 out of 10 users use a maximum of 3 apps on a daily basis,
– The app category that users engage with most frequently is social networking.
At the same time, the analysis of user behaviour conducted by the Silicon Valley start-up Quettra indicates that any newly launched app loses nearly 80% of its initial users within the first three days.
These statistics paint a worrisome picture: people are increasingly dissatisfied with the existing offer of mobile apps and lose interest very quickly. This is the right moment to introduce the key character of this article: the micro-app.
What Is a Micro-App?
You may think that you do not know what a micro-app is, but chances are you have already interacted with one. Think of Facebook Messenger. This is a micro-app. It does one specific thing: allows live chat between Facebook users. And this is the precise definition of a micro-app: it has a single functionality, allowing the users to solve a precise problem or satisfy a specific need without having to navigate through a large and complex app.
Micro-apps are built in HTML and can be easily integrated in a mobile platform or accessible from a desktop computer through a browser. Initially, micro-apps flourished in domains such as human resources and time management, providing cross-platform solutions for managers and employees to issue approvals and manage their time sheets.
But more and more companies are now rethinking their mobile app strategy and considering micro-apps as the next natural step towards regaining their users. This trend becomes significant for 2017 and here is why:
1. Mobile Apps Have Become Burdensome
As mobile technologies have developed, mobile apps have evolved from simple tools for company branding and customer interaction into large and complex structures. In many situations, the mobile app of one organization is a condensed version of its website.
Unwilling to reduce functionality for improved usability, companies are now deploying large mobile apps which take a lot of storage space and need many phone resources to work properly. Many users complain that apps they have installed load too slowly and have a complex navigation. They are unhappy that they cannot access the exact part of the application they need in just one tap or two.
2. Soaring Development Prices Cause Many Apps to Be Abandoned in Production
Smaller companies feel compelled to compete against large corporations for the mobile segment and use up their budget on a complex app which is never completed. There are many potentially useful apps which have never reached an app store because production costs exceeded the company’s budget.
3. Users Want a Simple “In and Out” Experience
Most users do not want to browse apps, the way they would do with a website. They are in a hurry, or they’ve just had an idea and they want to solve one specific issue. They need the app to do one specific thing and allow them to save time, compared to performing the same task from a website.
And this is where many mobile apps fail. They have splash screens, menus, various sections and the user loses more time than they expected doing what they needed to do.
All the above issues are solved by micro-apps. Light in size and phone resource usage, a dedicated micro-app allows the user to feel in control and to do exactly what they need, without any hassle. It can be also customized to the user’s need, by integration both in the mobile phone, tablet and user’s computer, allowing them to switch from one type of usage to another in a smooth and seamless manner.
Thus, micro-apps promise to be, if not the great contender of current mobile apps, then the next generation. The new approach in designing apps will help companies rethink their customer retention and branding strategy, expanding their reach in more efficient and meaningful ways.