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Upwardly Mobile: the rise of mobile apps
Prototype Interactive’s CEO Alexander Rauser shares insights on the growing importance of mobile apps in our digital lifestyle.
April 14, 2011 2:47 by Atique Naqvi
How do you view the evolution of mobile apps around the world? How has it changed the lives users, in general?
In a recent survey conducted by AdMob, it has been discovered that users are spending up to 80 minutes a day using mobile applications. With the number of mobile applications readily available, there is a huge amount of content for users to consume.
Mobile devices have increasingly become the centre of media consumption and interaction. Smartphones have become faster and more powerful and coupled with the availability of new generation tablet PC’s such as the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy tab, hardware is easily accessible and can fit in your pocket.
As users use mobile applications to play games, read newspapers and stream music the time users spend on mobile applications will increase. The breadth of applications available demonstrates how users are becoming more and more reliant on them.
How was 2010 for Prototype and for the mobile technology sector in general?
2010 was a great year for Prototype. There was a definitive uplift in terms of demand for digital solutions and online marketing. There is still much room for growth in the regional market.
However, the regional market is still holding back when it comes to digital marketing as there are many more possibilities as is currently being implemented. It is becoming more important for companies to start practicing their digital marketing tactics as more communication channels become available and the situation gets more complex.
Who are your target consumers?
Everyone who has a smartphone and to explain what that means here are some figures. Of the 6.7 billion people on the planet a whopping 5 billion have a mobile phone. Purchases in emerging markets are driving the expected total of globally used Smartphones to hit 1.7 billion by 2014. The users of Smartphones together with tablet and web apps users create a massive target audience for everyone that developers mobile applications.
What is your forecast for this year and what challenges it poses for the sector?
The main challenge is education and building trust around the benefit of digital solutions such as mobile apps. While there is much more demand than there was before, the benefits are not yet clear for many organisations.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of metrics in place for measuring the ROI of such initiatives from a marketing perspective and this affects the budget allocation for such initiatives.
Moving forward, however, I believe we will see more regional brands leveraging mobile apps either as utility tools or branding vehicles. The demand of such applications is increasing significantly and with the availability of funding platforms such as Apps Arabia, we will also get more mobile content from entrepreneurs and start ups.
While applications as a marketing tool will be used by many of the bigger brands it will also take more time for smaller brands to tap into mobile marketing. However, the increasing success of Arabic applications will definitively increase.
We have seen this over the last years that mobile apps such as Qibla finder, prayer times etc became extremely successful during the period of Ramadan. This shows there is a huge demand for such applications in the region.
What are the shining stars among the apps you have recently launched/developed?
We’ve developed several mobile applications including apps for regional newspapers, airlines, online shops, audiobooks and magazines.
As an example we developed a Windows Phone 7 application for the local online shop Nahel.com which will be available to mobile phone users shortly. This application will allow users to get their hands on the latest product offerings as well as to compare prices while they are in a physical store or the mall. This way the user can check if they would get an advantage of buying goods online in terms of price.
With numerous mobile apps, everyone is hooked to their smartphones, but what about real-life human connection?
Nowadays, through the medium of messaging services and social networks people are more connected than ever before. If you think about how communication has evolved over the past ten years, much has changed. People are constantly receiving updates about their friends and families, even those who may live far away from each other. And technology has made that happen.
Real-life human connection has become less important in building relationships but I’m not sure this is such a bad thing. With access to messaging services, chat and social networks via mobile phones people are more connected and updated about each others life than ever before.