As an old decade ends and another begins, it is only natural to look back and reflect. One of the biggest trends of my lifetime has been the demise of the mass media broadcast and general print medium and the rise of the niche cable channels and specialized print publications. Since the 1980s, the networks have seen their share of audience usurped by specialized cable channels and the general interest publications of the 1950s have been replaced by narrow interest publications of the 1980s, 90s and the millennium.
So why is content discovery and distribution in the mobile application market still a function of 1980s one size fits all app stores?
Mobile apps are truly the latest and greatest invention of the highly personalized, narrowcast digital medium known as the mobile phone, and yet the app store still clings to a decades old mass distribution model ruled by quantity and impersonal discovery. Adding further frustration, in order to download the latest niche app, mobilistas have to leave the niche content and focused social experience they may be enjoying and jump over to the generic big box app warehouse to get their niche app.
Not very user friendly.
So, let’s make sure we have this straight. In an era where the social experience seems to greatly influence the commerce experience, big box app warehouses are designed to keep mobile consumers who wish to utilize social media to discover new apps outside the front door – at least until they are ready to stop talking. Once inside the big box app warehouse, all mobile consumers need to be quiet and just read the preapproved language describing each app.
I thought the latest and greatest digital commerce experiences were supposed to be better than the brick and mortar experiences! Can you imagine how many people would shop at a brick and mortar store if there were ‘no talking’ signs posted all over?
There is a reason why mountain climbers are happy to spend more money for more products at a mountaineering store than at a generic sports equipment warehouse. It’s about the communal and social experience that furthers the enjoyment of mountaineering – not to mention the ease of being able to find all of the great mountaineering products in one placed specifically designed to satisfy their needs.
Why is the app discovery and distribution model so archaic…or at least so 1980s?
Just like in the real world, there is a time and a place for big box stores. As my wife says, there is no better place to buy socks than Target. So, for the dictionary app, some great phone games, and other general apps, I think the big box app warehouses work fine.
But on behalf of all mountaineers, quilters, airplane pilots and everyone else with a specialized interest, I have a request.
Give us some specialized app stores with vibrant social communities to enhance our love for our niche activities and allow us to participate with our community in a place where we can discover, buy, share and enjoy those apps together.