Apps: What Is All The Fuss About?

Soumini Sridhara Paul, Vice President, Artist Aloud A part of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, Artist Aloud is a digital distribution platform for unreleased music created by artists across the world. The site currently comprises of music from over 300 plus well known and new solo artists & bands and has music from diverse genres.

What is an App? Well, the technical definition is: App is an abbreviated form of the word 'application'. An application is a software program that's designed to perform a specific function directly for the user or, in some cases, for another application program. However, today we are all slaves to it. The last 5-7 years has seen a boom in the world of applications where something that was meant to be an enabler has now become the only way of life. Back in the late 90s, when Hotmail introduced the email which was aggressively replaced by Gmail, any one who did not use an email was considered to be irrelevant or not accessible. That is now happening with Apps.

There is an App for everything today - Banking, School communication, Education, Entertainment, Food, or Travel. With the advent of the internet, owning or creating a website was a hot trend and in the early 2000s one saw a surge in people going online as well as building businesses which created a dot com revolution. However, like anything new, once the dust settled down, there were number of dot coms that had to shut shop. Not all set ups were shut down though. Some survived as stand-alone businesses due to unique offerings and business strategies while others survived because they were part of a terrestrial business and were there more from a hygiene perspective.

Over the years, like every new technology and innovation, websites were being replaced by applications. One of the reasons for this was recognising the fact that people today are living in the fast lane and want to get access to their information quickly. There was a time just
a few years back where brands stopped building websites and directly went into developing an App. This was something that a number of ecommerce players were beginning to do or considering to do. However, before it could pick up and become a trend, internet access started growing exponentially with better data networks and providers and the requirement of an App along with a website became mandatory. And interestingly for those who already had a website, making an App started becoming a man date. So today, just like in the olden days we had postal addresses; we now have websites that are called responsive sites which can show you an interface as per your access device (Mobile, Tablet or Desktop) and Apps.

An App business is for a life time, and maybe even longer than that. One must not venture into it unless they have a things cleared in their mind

While all of this seems so obvious and simple, the bigger challenge of building an App is not in its development but in its sustenance. Making an App available for consumers is a one day affair compared to the time, effort, blood and sweat it takes to keep the consumer engaged and become an active user. Another challenge is identifying the business side of an App. What should be the revenue model? What is the consumer expected to use the App for? How often will the consumer use the App? This last question is very critical especially if you are building a revenue model around advertising which is completely dependent not just on daily / monthly traffic to the App but also the time spent on the App. If the App is an enabler to a terrestrial business and your revenue is steady through that then the App can help in several ways including digital expansion, marketing, database and over all image building. Any business that is moving with time and technology has a bigger chance of being noticed as well as surviving.

In today’s day and age, your existence does not depend on how long you have been in business. While that can build a sense of loyalty or faith, it can only go so far if you have not moved with the times. An App business is for a life time, and maybe even longer than that. One must not venture into it unless they have a few things cleared in their mind like:

• What is the App going to do for the user?
• Why should the user use the App?
• How can the owner ensure that the user does not have to uninstall the App or replace it with another due to issues in functionality, device space or relevance for the user?
• How can you build convenience into the utility of the App?

The last point is very critical because I experienced the value of an App when I travelled to a new country recently where between Google Maps, Uber and WhatsApp, I felt safe, aware and in communication with my family. I cannot imagine feeling this before the invention of Apps. So, the crux of the matter is, how are you going to make a difference in the common man’s life because that will define your existence and success. The key is to also keep evolving, staying relevant and experimental. People may be judgemental; but if you can think of something that is not there, it does not mean that it is not meant to be. Instead it’s just that no one thought of it and that can be your starting point.