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Is the app revolution finally running out of gas?

Are we finally becoming fed up with mobiles’ lucrative handmaidens – apps?

New research from Adobe says that while smartphone traffic in Europe has doubled between 2014 and 2016 (which is probably why we can’t get a signal) new and repeat use of apps is stalling with installations down five per cent in the period and the number of apps opened increasing by just four per cent. In the US installs are down by a chunky 38 per cent with apps opened falling by 28 per cent.

Which is significant given that many of today’s “disruptor’ businesses, like Uber, are app-driven.

None of which seems to concern Google whose app-driven Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are news feeds, have increased clicks five-fold since 2016, peaking during Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. They now account for seven per cent of all news article clicks globally, which may be one reason people are fretting about so-called “fake news.” Didn’t seem to do Donald much harm.

On the global smartphone market as a whole the report found that developing economies continue to outpace affluent countries in smartphone adoption by as much as 34 per cent. While the US and Europe have reached internet saturation, booming smartphone growth in India, China and Brazil is now the exclusive driver of new internet users in those countries.

On the app front Adobe EMEA marketing director John Watton says: “Five in ten apps are still used more than ten times after download, showing that brands still have a large, captive mobile audience and an opportunity to capitalise on this usage. If marketers get mobile apps right, they can be crucial in boosting repeat visits and loyalty. With this in mind, it is critical for brands to look at ways of making the mobile app and browsing experience more compelling and relevant for their consumers, whether through more personalised experiences or with the integration of new technologies such as mobile wallets or location beacons.”

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Well maybe. But, just as apps seemed to take over the world amazingly quickly after launch, their decline (if the US figures are to be believed) could be equally dramatic.

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