At the fourth talk I attended Matt Webb, the CEO of BERG, eloquently spoke about the interconnected nature of products, culture, technology, design, and the experiential aspect that lubricates them all. His talk focused on hardware products, and the affably named Little Printer, within the context of the above. I work within the mobile design and development agency sector, so at times my mind did drift towards software products and how the conversation applied to them and mobile apps in particular. This led me to ponder – are mobile apps under-appreciated as products?
Agency-client dynamic and mobile apps as products
A mindboggling statistic that I read this week that helps frame this topic is that there are over 700,000 apps in the AppStore – each one of them in their own right a product. Given my experience in the mobile industry, I’m well aware that my point-of-view on the question is may be tainted by experiences and agency mind-set. With this said, I’m steadfast in my opinion that yes – mobile apps are underappreciated as products.
Anyone working in the agency scene, mobile or otherwise, will understand that we are at the beck and call of a client at all times. I find that this dynamic in the relationship is often magnified and pushed to the limits when designing and developing a mobile app. To the untrained eye people will see a beautiful, rich and engaging app and be unaware of the fact that these products are incredibly complex to deliver.
Mobile app development is software development at the end of the day – something that Matt Webb himself pointed out is a hard thing to do. The shiny exterior that these apps reside on, belie the dexterity in design and complexity of coding/development that make these products. Every mobile app is a unique solution – a product with a unique DNA – where every consumer experience and layer of the product is fully thought through.
Hardware v Software: Smartphone v Application
When Sir Jonathan Ives first got his minimalistic hands on the iPhone, he undoubtedly crafted one of the most beautiful products ever made. Rightfully so, the iPhone and Ives received the recognition and appreciation due as a beautifully created product and its creator. What fascinates me to this day though is why Apple doesn’t further push the 700,000+ products that have been designed and developed off the back of this product and OS platform. Just the same way that creating the iPhone was a tour de force in technology and design by Apple, apps should be regarded the same. From the highly addictive Angry Birds to the stunningly beautiful Guardian Eyewitness app, I regard apps as technological and design feats of excellence.
Ultimately, my reasoning for mobile apps being under-appreciated and being taken for granted is due to their ubiquity in everyday human life – mobile apps are crutches we lean on for everyday life situations.