Mobile-First companies leave door open for competition

Let’s face it, there are apps these days that are always in the news… for good or for bad. You know some of the ones I’m talking about – Snapchat, Tinder, Instagram, Angry Birds, Shazam, and the list goes on. So why are these apps always in the news? Because the businesses that created them are app-centric…meaning the apps are the business. These businesses were born in the mobile-era, so they revolve around their mobile apps and invest heavily in them. While these apps may be wildly popular, it doesn’t mean that they’re the best they can be. In fact, some of them have so much room for improvement that a competitor could easily come into the market and steal their users.

Case in point: Snapchat. Snapchat’s Applause Analytics Score for iOS is 45 (out of 100). Drilling down on this score exposes the biggest detriment to be security issues, followed closely by stability and privacy issues. While this user sentiment might not be too surprising to anyone who has followed the news lately, what is surprising is that these issues were being mentioned in app reviews long before the security breach was reported. Reviews first started to heavily reflect security, stability and privacy concerns back in December 2012.

The other apps mentioned above don’t fare much better. Tinder and Shazam’s Applause Analytics Scores average in the high 50s, while Instagram comes in at 66 for their iOS app and slightly higher for their Android app (71). Angry Birds is the most impressive, but only among iOS users. Most versions of the game (Angry Birds Rio, Seasons, Lite, etc) built for iOS score in the high 80s, but the same versions built for Android only score in the high 50s on Applause Analytics.

With so much negative user sentiment, it seems easy for new players to enter the market right? Couldn’t an existing big-name brand create a mobile app that quickly wins users from these so-so apps? Well, VentureBeat thinks that hasn’t happened yet because older, well-established companies aren’t as focused on understanding the mobile market. They’ve built their business outside of mobile and now aren’t able to react as quickly as app-centric companies. Here’s what VentureBeat says big brands could be missing:

Smartphones. This is simple. The pace of smartphone penetration has transformed the way tech companies need to position their products. Period.

Young people are different. Young people in particular are heavily mobile-focused and like new, shiny, fun apps – and don’t have the loyalty to older Internet brands.

Simplicity wins. Companies like Airbnb are successful because they keep it simple. And that’s the only way to survive on mobile. They focus on doing one thing — such as room bookings — but doing it with flair and doing it exceptionally well. Same with YPlan and other curation services – keep it just to what people want, and don’t clutter.

The quickening “cool-uncool” cycle. The pace at which brands fall out of fashion has accelerated. Facebook is already old news for some, as Instagram and Snapchat steal the limelight. There’s a reason Facebook wasn’t able to develop an Instagram in house and now can’t afford to integrate it and risk damaging the brand.

So if big brands can’t win, who can? That remains to be seen, but quality is certainly going to be critical to success since it seems to be one of the only pitfalls of the existing apps. (To be fair, some app-centric companies mentioned in the VentureBeat article do have very impressive scores on Applause Analytics, like Airbnb, Flipboard and YPlan, indicating great app quality.)

If you want to dig deeper into the Applause Analytics Scores mentioned above, or check out your own app’s score, I recommend a free 30-day trial of Applause Analytics.

This post originally appeared on the Applause App Analytics Blog.

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