App Aggression: Why the App Store Demands Perfection

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Ten years ago, Steve Jobs stood in front of the Macworld Convention in San Francisco and changed the world. A small, inconspicuous device named the iPhone, was declared ‘revolutionary’, a ‘reinvention’ of the industry, and ‘unprecedented’ in its potential.

The first generation of the iPhone had its flaws, but gradually, and with almost effortless drive, it has come to dominate every part of its users’ lives: the way they communicate, travel, eat, and organise their day is all conducted through the medium of a smartphone. Yet, when people think of the iPhone, they rarely think of the other major weapon in Apple’s arsenal – the App Store.

Whereas the iPhone represents a singular interaction between Apple and its customers – you purchase the product and go on your way – the App Store provides consumers with a constantly evolving service. Contributing to more than $100 billion worth of gross revenue for the company to date, the App Store is Apple’s most enduring and consistent touch point with consumers. But what makes a successful app?

Brutal Competition: the current state of play

From ordering food to booking flights, learning another language to creating your own virtual world, there’s an app for just about everything nowadays; in fact, there’s an estimated 2.2 million of them on the App Store alone. Apps will inevitably become more complex as they redefine our daily lives in ever greater strides. The biggest question moving forward: what must businesses do to manage their applications and deliver flawless digital experiences in order to stand out from the crowd?

Having developed an App Attention Span Index, we’ve found that eight in ten users have deleted apps because they’ve not performed correctly. Anything from a non-responsive user interface to poor connectivity can affect people’s perceptions of an app and in today’s world – ruthlessness is new norm. Over a third of UK consumers have gone so far as to delete an app or abandon a website after just one attempt due to performance problems.

Striking enough, but combine this with the fact that 58 per cent of UK consumers only use between one and five apps per day, means businesses are left with the smallest margin for error when it comes to their digital offerings. The real estate is limited across the board, but certain sectors that have felt the pinch even more.

The Application Arena: Banking and retail

Nearly two thirds of people have rising expectations when it comes to digital performance, with retail and banking cited as the most important industries that users want to get right. The rise of digital-only banks has provided a credible threat to the established players, with the app now effectively the business.

Three in ten people would change their bank if the app was not up to scratch. When it comes to people’s finances, app performance is directly linked to trust, and whether a bank will keep your money safe. In fact, only 40 per cent of UK consumers said they would keep their money at a bank with a bad mobile app. You need look no further than Monzo or Starling’s rise over the past couple of years to confirm the importance of digital fluidity.

Loyalty is no longer a prerequisite, and because digital leaders continually raise the bar for consumer expectations, brands never win a customer for life. They are won and lost at the press of a button, and one bad experience could turn away business for good. A third of respondents went elsewhere due to poor digital experiences, while a quarter would be less likely to use that service in future.

And it’s not good enough to analyse what went wrong after the fact. If companies aren’t analysing their apps in real-time, they can’t react to the problems costing them revenue. With three in ten missing out on a deal because of poor performance, the stakes are too high for businesses to rest on their laurels.

The focus on mobile is only set to increase. A study by Hitwise found that mobile conversion rates are up 11 per cent year on year since 2014, but one third of users still feel that completing transactions on mobile applications is too complicated. The sheer number of apps available means that if consumers don’t experience flawless performance at first use, they’ll simply download another and take their business elsewhere.

Apps remain an intense battleground with only a handful making a real mark on our lives. In the future, the iPhone may be replaced, and apps may evolve beyond all recognition, but performance will always be the measure of the model.

AppDynamics’ App Attention Index 2017 surveyed 5000 people globally, for more information please click here.  

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