The Future of Apps

Daniel Burrus

No one can deny that the original telephone Alexander Graham Bell invented in 1876 has changed significantly. From a luxury item proudly displayed as the centerpiece of the home to something small, portable, and powerful that keep within arms reach 24/7, the humble telephone has evolved into a mini personal computer capable of much more than traiditional voice phone calls.

Today, with the advent of various Smart Phones, such as the iPhone, Blackberry, and Droid, phones have gotten...well...smarter. People can now download apps (short for applications) directly to their phone to help them with a number of everyday tasks. Whether you want to check flight schedules, create a to-do list, convert currency, track your daily caloric intake, relax to soothing sounds,  or do any number of business or personal things, chances are there's an app for it.

As a result, businesses in every sector have been creating apps directly related to their core offerings. Some would even say that companies are "scrambling" to enter the apps market, believing that attracting additional customers and revenues is directly related to their app offerings.

Is creating apps a smart thing for business to do? Of course. Just as the phone has evolved, so has business. Having the ability to "touch" your customers when they're not in your store or on your website is vital to stay competitive. However, as technology and Smart Phones continue to evolve (which we know without a doubt that they will), it only makes sense that the apps companies create would have to change too.

And that's exactly where many companies are missing the mark.


While creating apps with a mass-market appeal is good (such as apps for finding a good restaurant or creating action lists), few companies are thinking about the evolution of apps and what the next generation of apps will be.

So what exactly will tomorrow's apps look like? The natural progression will be for apps to be enterprise level. In other words, there will need to be apps for purchasing, for logistics, for supply chain management, for lead generation, for patient care, etc. Tomorrow's apps will be like having a virtual assistant by your side. These apps won't just make you more productive with your work; they'll actually do some of the work for you. For example, in the medical field, we'll see apps for disease management, for patient records, and for remote diagnostics. The app will be more like an essential tool to perform a specific funtion rather than an ancillary item.

Aside from the app itself, the future of apps is also about where that app will be used. With Apple's launch of the iPad and soon competing smart pads by other manufacturers, apps are already finding new homes outside of the phone.

Some Smart Phone apps are compatible with Smart Pads. But even those companies aren't thinking big enough...both literally and figuratively. Since the Smart Pads have bigger screens and more processing power, why should they do the same thing as the phone app? Why not take advantage of that extra space and power and come up with a new class of apps that can do things the phone apps can't? These are key questions companies must think about and address if they want to be serious players in the future app market.

But that's just the beginning. Next month, I will share the next eveolution of apps for the Television and how to stake your claim in tomorrow's apps.

Daniel Burrus, one of the world's leading technology forecasters, business strategists, and author of six books
Copyright 2010. Author retains copyright. All Rights Reserved.

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