We all are familiar with the popularity of feature rich mobile apps that allow us doing many things at once. In fact, bundling a lot of features within a single app was still a couple of years ago considered quite a feat. Thats how the term ‘feature rich’ was praise for a great app built to deliver great user experience.
But since then things have changed a lot. Suddenly brands popular found that instead of providing a large app where different types of users are looking for different features for their specific purposes, it is better to provide separate apps with the respective standalone feature and useful function. That is how Google unbundled it is apps into smaller apps like docs, sheet and drive. In spite of being closely related to inter-app collaboration, all of them have separate entities.
Obviously such unbundling of large apps into single feature ones has its distinct advantages for the users as well as developers and publishers. The benefits are huge and implications are far reaching. Before seeing what these small single feature apps have in store and how far they can really influence the app economy to let us have a look at the key benefits.
From the users point of view these small, single feature apps seem like a kind of respite from all the unnecessary hackle they often need to bypass to get their things done with an app. When you need to save something in cloud storage, you just have a simple cloud storage app. Never a notebook and sketchbook come packed into one app. You always have separate apps for them.
This will obviously add to the delight of the users as they can just download an app that they require and can access it quickly. The best part is with feeble feature strength and simple look and feels such apps are lighter, easy and fast loading. Users no longer need to worry about memory consumption by a number of heavy apps rich in features and content. They can save a lot of screen real estate and storage with a number of small apps they require.
Most of the time people use an app for one or two features or things they like there. In fact, over the time those features and popular look and feel give the app a distinct identity. An app is primarily known on account of what it is useful for. Naturally, when you segregate these sought after things and make them available in different apps, they become popular.
But on the other end of this rosy picture, there is a different type of challenge. Unbundling will open the floodgate of such tiny, single feature apps and they will make an overwhelming increase in the number of apps. While apps from popular brands like Google will stay discoverable and stand apart from these new crowd of apps, other small apps from a plethora of publishers will not meet the same fate. In fact, for most such apps being discovered will be a major challenge.
Yes, for marketers the challenge is enormous since they now have to struggle to make each of these apps discoverable in the App Store and Play Store. This is precisely why single feature apps have still not been adopted by many.
Unbundling can only be successful if the respective two or three features become extremely popular and attract a separate audience. Only when a good number of people regularly use a number of app feature for different purposes the unbundling seems to be a valid option. Otherwise, you only make your job tougher to become discoverable.
In some countries where you have a huge number of development start-ups, the pros and cons of building multiple tiny apps become quite apparent. Mobile app developers in India or South East Asia for instance always have to deal with the price challenge to stay competitive and they always find building such small apps lucrative with minimum challenges involved.
When they only need to focus on a single feature, they can always make it work the best way. They can ensure quick loading time, faster performance and easy accessibility to the app contents. Moreover, such small apps are easy to maintain a balanced look and feel across all kinds of devices and platforms as.
The only downside of these apps for developers is that they often do not add any substantial credential to the developer’s portfolio and remain mostly under the shadow of many big apps. From small productivity apps like mobile calendar or alarm clock to mini mobile games, all of them most of the time just work as fillers.
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As of now, for small app development companies such unbundled apps did not prove any distinct benefit in terms of revenue and numbers. But when it comes to biggies in a tech world, they are increasingly leaning toward unbundling and disintegrating their feature offerings into smaller as well as quickly useful apps.
It is actually the value proposition of a feature and it is popularity among the users that make a company consider disintegrating the feature and pack it into a separate, standalone app. Such a strategy as of now has only been successful with tech giants like Google and Facebook who by unbundling features like Docs and Messenger could cater to an audience who were expressly using these features.
What is the future of this trend then? Is it something for only biggies? Can small companies have any stake in writing their success story with small single feature apps? Enterprises having a moderate size of employee and several processes can be benefited from an enterprise app strategy based on small, process specific apps while allowing control with a central connected app for the admin. An app for CRM, one for sales and one for Training and Development while all of them sharing control with one admin app, that is how it is going to work for enterprises in the future.
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