The key is the usage-phenomenon „relevant sets“
You know it from other types of media: The number of utilized offers per user of a media-genre, the so-called “relevant set”, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. About 80% of the TV-usage per user applies to only six channels on average. This effect can also be recognized for print and digital products and nowadays also in the mobile segment. Times, in which countless different Apps were downloaded and tried out daily, are over. The few Apps, which seem to offer a real added value to the customers, are being optimized and lead the market for a long time – we talk about so-called Alpha-Apps here. The top of this segment is called “First Home Screen Apps” because they are needed often and therefore are accessible quickly.
Alpha Apps change the market and set trends – three growth fields
Alpha-Apps will shape the market strongly and sustainably. In the environment of those Apps so-called “Support-Apps” (that help using Alpha-Apps better or expand them) and “Cloud-Apps” (which are mainly content-applications that offer information and/or complete them) are integrated in the growth process. To back the right horse (out of the three) from the beginning, tool- and content-provider have to understand the structure of the market. The following factors regarding this trend matter and form the three growth-pillars in the App market:
The relevant set changes the mobile market heavily. Today already 84% of the smartphone usage per person applies to only five non-native Apps, according to a study of the Forrester Research. This effect is being made responsible for repressing the gold-rush mood in the App business and reducing the number of new applications. The individual relevant sets of the users differ within each other, but common names like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and WhatsApp turn up frequently.
The big players are conscious of the rising usage-concentration and expand their Apps to Alpha Apps. Those include more and more functionalities and content and obviate the need for smaller applications. The aim is to provide the user with a rising quantity of services without changing to another App while keeping him in the own App as long as possible. The latest example: Facebook Instant Articles, which offer journalistic content of big media brands like Bild and Spiegel within the Facebook-App. Here, there is a threat for traditional media brands to lose relevance and become the minor important role of a content supplier for the big global players.
Alpha-Apps will grow due to the financial power of its brands while small providers will have a hard time to establish their Apps on the market. As a consequence, a power structure will arise which continuously empowers the position of the Alpha-Apps and increases the gap to minor applications.
It doesn’t always have to be the top of the winner’s podium
The speed, in which developments on the mobile market proceed nowadays, is tremendous. Hereby mostly big US-players accomplish in adjusting their offers closely to the customer needs und set new impulses. Through the integration of additional services they will expand their Apps to Alpha-Apps. It could be possible for instance, that Instagram will involve all photography-features whereas Apple embraces everything regarding music. This requires carefully managed strategy-building processes. Where am I truly valuable for my costumers? Which competences do I have internally and which do I have to buy to create lean and effective processes? How do I sequence my App-production and -evolution in accordance with the Alpha-App-trends?
The aim is clear: Skim off the potentials of the Alpha-Apps and profit from their growth.
This article was written by Robert Daubner, Consultant and Media Specialist at SCHICKLER Media Consultants in Hamburg. It was also published in german language at www.schicklernext.com.