By Rieva Lesonsky
Is your small business investing heavily in app development? While smartphone apps are seeing a surge right now, that may not last, cautions a new study from ABI Research.
ABI predicts that global smartphone users will download some 36 billion apps this year, or almost 37 per smartphone user—an increase of almost 6 percent from 2011 downloads. However, instead of continuing to grow, ABI predicts app downloads will start to decline modestly.
The prediction goes against what some other sources have said. For instance, a Nielsen study cited by eMarketer showed that app use grew between 2011 and 2012 and significantly cut into time smartphone users spent on the mobile Web.
So why does ABI project a drop in app downloads? For one thing, the next big wave of smartphone purchasers will include older users who are less likely to enjoy playing around with apps. Perhaps more importantly, increasing sophistication in the mobile Web will make using apps less desirable, since consumers will be able to get much of the same functionality by going online.
Does this mean you should eliminate your company’s apps? Not at all. First, keep in mind the decline will be “modest,” at least at first. Apps are still extremely popular, and depending on your user base, may continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
What this data does mean is that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’ve been ignoring the mobile Web and focusing solely on creating apps, now is the time to diversify. Keep in mind that this study focused on smartphones, and as tablets become more widespread, the mobile Web (already easier to access on tablets than on phones) is likely to even become more important.
Best advice? If an app makes sense for your business, by all means go ahead. But spread your risk around, and consider how you can make your small business website mobile-friendly so users can get the most from your business wherever they are, whenever they want, and whatever device they’re on.
Image by Flickr user topgold (Creative Commons)