Have We Reached Mobile App Market Saturation?
What happens in the retail world when a particular product or service sector reaches a point of market saturation? Room for growth instantly becomes limited. In other words, the market for any product or service will only bear so much competition before there’s very little room for new players to compete. It looks like we may be reaching a point of market saturation for mobile apps, at least at the consumer level.
As any Android or iOS app developer can tell you, creating a killer app that instantly goes viral is next to impossible. Most app developers are content with creating work that meets a specific function for a specific customer without any expectation that it will be the next big thing on the market. As for all those ‘next big things’, they are getting harder to come by.
Consumers Have Reached Their Limit
There are two ways to approach mobile app development. The first is to work as an independent developer hoping to hit it big by creating a piece of software that leads to a new business model, sort of like what Uber and Airbnb have done. The other way is to work for a company such as Austin-based iTexico to develop mobile apps for business needs. The first model relies heavily on consumer demand. Unfortunately, that demand may be waning.
According to a number of statistics cited by IT News Africa, Americans appear to be losing their appetite for new mobile apps. Total downloads in the 12 months ending May 2016 were down more than 20%, and some experts are saying that the average consumer already has all the apps he or she wants. With the exception of social media, mobile users really have no desire or need for anything new.
The limited appetite for new apps is due in large part to market saturation. Just bring up the app store on your own mobile device and search any term you want. In most cases, the number of apps available for your chosen search terms will be more than you care to scroll through. So what is the Android or iOS app developer to do?
Plenty of Potential Still Exists
The reality of market saturation is both good and bad for mobile app developers. In terms of direct consumer needs, we are running out of space to come up with new apps that people will be willing to download for free, let alone pay for. But there is still plenty of room in the business-to-business market.
The long and short of it is that market saturation is really only a problem at a consumer level. In other words, we don’t need any more apps for writing down notes and setting up mobile calendars. But apps that are specific to those organizations users do business with are still very much in demand. That just happens to be where mobile app development is seeing its strongest growth.
Imagine being a business owner with five different retail locations in your local area. Contracting with an app developer to create something that will help your customers interact with your business better will strengthen each of your retail locations through better customer engagement. Likewise, imagine running a hospitality based business like a hotel. Having an app that enhances the experience of staying in your hotel puts you in a better position to compete.
Yes, we have reached market saturation for mobile apps at the consumer level, but we are just beginning to explore the possibilities of app development for businesses. In that respect, the future looks very bright indeed.