It might seem strange to think that it is now ten years since the largest social network every created was first dreamt up in the dormitory of an American University. It’s uniquely recognisable symbol is everywhere and can be used to access almost everything. It is undeniable that social networking has completely changed the way in which we interact with people as well as how we approach our day to day communications with one another.
A significant part of the success of the major names in social media has been the ability to share photos, stories and send instant messages from a single place. This convenience has stretched from the browser interface across to tablets and mobile devices.
However, the endless amount of advertising, ‘promoted posts’ and a general excess of material in which people simply have no interest has pushed users away from the fully integrated GUI and towards applications which have a particular function. Applications which do one thing exceptionally well, as opposed to do many things to a lower level of quality and with regular changes to the user experience. In particular, there are applications that are built specifically for instant messaging over the internet. The unique selling point of this has been the ability to send short messages and pictures over the internet – rather than through SMS or MMS. This is for two major reasons; firstly, it is significantly cheaper to send picture messages using these types of applications over the internet rather than through the more traditional method of via the mobile phone network.
Users with smartphones typically have a data allowance that they can use as well as being able to connect to WiFi hotspots in public places. The second major reason for the success and popularity of these types of applications is that they enable people to send pictures and messages internationally with nothing more than an internet connection.
Although messaging apps are arguably the driving force behind this move away from integrated applications to ‘specific use’ apps, they are not the be-all and end-all. Whilst there are certainly a number of ‘big name’ photo sharing applications, there is always the potential for a new and exciting application to ‘break through’ and become a hit. The recurring theme with application success and failure is that it is often easy for an app to quickly become popular for a short amount of time, it is maintaining that popularity and use that is the key to longevity.
Where then, does this leave developers? Clearly there is a fork in the road with application use. The popularity of social networking is still extremely high, but the continual emergence of new applications which are targeted at serving a specific purpose to the user would seem to indicate that there is an ongoing shift towards specific-app use.
If you are able to produce an apps which doesn’t necessarily offer something drastically new, but which makes an everyday task easier to carry out, then you may well be on to something.
As ever, we’d like to know your opinion on all the topics we cover; are there any apps which you’re particularly excited about? Is this just a ‘flash in the pan’ and will there be something else that we are all talking about in 12 months time? Let us know!
Image Credits: © Jordan McQueen - unsplash.com