Mobile computing is going app, app and away

AppsA couple of years ago no-one had ever heard of them. Today, they’re everywhere. In a report published recently, leading analysts Gartner predicts that 2013 is set to be another big year for apps.

The headline from this report - Predicts 2013: Businesses Will Take Consumer Apps to the Next Levelis that the popularity of mobile use is growing and will continue to do so. Plus, the popularity of apps is going skywards as well. Gartner predicts that that the number of apps downloaded is set to rocket from 45 billion in 2012 to a staggering 305 billion downloads in 2016.

It seems the surge in popularity of smartphones and tablets is only equalled by people’s appetite for apps. But Gartner also makes another prediction.

“Increasing use of apps will eventually see them overtake Internet domain names to become consumers' first choice when accessing content, information and services,” it said.

There are many thought-provoking points made in this report – everything from the role of cloud computing to wearing a digital device - but for Gerry Sherlock, head of mobile applications in the BT Retail CIO team, this one really stands out.

‘What it suggests,” said Gerry, “is that in the next couple of years, when people want to interact with a company, they will use an app instead of tapping ‘www’ into their web browser.

Increased access

“If you think about the evolution of personal computing, we’ve gone from accessing the web from a desktop to a laptop and then onto mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. But many of us still do our online shopping or banking using a web browser.

“But increasingly – as apps get better and better - more of us are shifting towards apps to interact with companies,” said Gerry.

Indeed, the number of people who use apps to access BT services has grown steadily over the last couple of years. And increasingly, they’re choosing apps rather than using a web browser.

But, of course, the development of apps has still some way to go before meeting Gartner’s prediction. Security is a must, the app has to do the job it claims to be able to and the user experience has got to be top drawer. Getting it right is up to developers meeting the needs of consumers. If only there was an app for that.