Pokémon Go and the App Industry How Apps Are Changing the Business Community

From checking emails and playing games, to finding a date or a place to live – it’s common knowledge that if you need to get something done, “there’s an app for that.”

Given that there is an app for almost anything you may need to do, it’s no surprise that the app industry is projected to be a $77 billion industry by 2017, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, and according to VentureBeat, it could hit $101 billion by 2020. And, according to Business Insider, it’s a bigger industry than Hollywood. That same Entrepreneur article by Catherine Clifford, noted that right now, “the average mobile app user spends more than 30 hours a month on more than two dozen apps.”

The best example of the boom that is the app industry is a game that exploded as soon as it was released. The introduction of Pokémon Go, an interactive game featuring augmented reality where you hunt and catch different types of creatures called Pokémon, has brought even more attention to an industry that was already booming before its introduction. It has shed light on an economy that is growing, sometimes a little volatile, and is apparently here to stay.

Unpredictability of Apps

The app industry is very different from other industries and the emergence and journey of Pokémon Go is a testament to that. The craze surrounding Pokémon Go, even though it may be just a game played for fun, shows just how precarious, unpredictable and exciting this relatively new industry can be.

Only a week after its launch, Pokémon Go had been installed on twice as many phones as Tinder, doubled the engagement of Snapchat and surpassed Twitter’s daily users by far. In contrast to the traditional business world, where it can be hard to break into an already established market with a new idea, name or business, the sudden onslaught of Pokémon Go users shows that in the app industry, it’s anyone’s game. No one would have guessed that a game pandering to the latest surge of 90s nostalgia would knock mobile app veterans, like Twitter and Snapchat, off the mobile app throne. But in this industry, anything is possible, and being well-established means nothing as users are always looking for the newest thing – there is always room for a rookie to tip the scales.

As users continue to look for what’s new and exciting, even the apps that come on strong have to continue to evolve to keep users happy. Despite the large number of downloads, the current challenge is to keep users playing. And that’s the case with every app that hits the market. The Washington Post reported that John Hanke, chief executive officer of the game’s developer, said that the company has only put in “probably a tenth” of the features it has imagined for the game.

The company is already planning to add features such as one that will allow users to trade Pokémon. These improvements and additions are an important part of creating an app, as demonstrated by the fact that the numbers for Pokémon Go users, despite it’s amazing start, are already starting to even out. With an explosion of downloads and usage in the first week, the numbers are showing limited growth.

A Marketing Tool for Business

Whether it’s a passing fad, a “here today, gone tomorrow” app, the fact is, it’s driving traffic into businesses. It’s helping businesses make money and if it’s not Pokémon Go doing it tomorrow, it will most likely be another app. That’s what a great app does and it’s the reason why, early this year, Forbes released an article from contributor Scott Shane stating that “smartphone apps have become too important [of] a marketing tool for small business owners to do without.”

Given that Americans now spend more time looking at their mobile phones than they do watching television, a snazzy new commercial just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to driving business.

According to Jesse Flores, the owner of local web development company, SuperWebPros, “The mobile ecosystem is now how most people access the Internet most frequently.”

Yet, in a study Flores performed last summer, over 64 percent of local business websites failed Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. “From what I’ve seen, many businesses aren’t optimizing their websites for mobile, let alone investing in mobile apps. But they should be investing in mobile channels if they want customers because that’s where the customers are.”

Whether they have their own app, or piggy back off of the success of another app, the app industry is affecting businesses, whether they like it or not.

Leo Dion, owner of the local mobile app development company BrightDigit, agrees, “There are many benefits to having a mobile app over just a mobile website,” he says. “A mobile app will be able to take advantage of features such as GPS, notifications, motion detection and other hardware specialized for certain smartphones. Not only will the app be better supported by the software on the device, but [businesses] will be giving [their] customers a better experience.”

A Growing Industry

As more and more businesses come to terms with the fact that they may need an app, the industry continues to grow. In order to give small businesses the best chance at building an app that works for them, new app development companies emerge every day, adding jobs to the job market and boosting the economy, contributing to the $101 billion that was mentioned earlier.

Another unique aspect of the app industry, compared to its more traditional counterparts, is the way this industry is revolutionizing other industries. Pokémon Go shows the way it’s changing the gaming industry, getting players outside, moving and interacting rather than hiding in basements glued to screens, but it’s left its mark on other industries as well. It’s disrupted the taxi industry (which has been around for 100 years) with the introduction of Uber. It’s completely changed the way we date, bank, and connect, and even track our health. New devices that rely on apps, like the Apple Watch, hit the market every day and it’s even changing the education industry, as there is more demand for coding and software knowledge.

So, whether businesses choose to take advantage of the ways Pokémon Go can bring in customers to their business, or choose to create their own app, it’s pretty safe to say that apps are here to stay and the industry doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

To learn more about how Pokémon Go is bringing people and businesses together, visit lansingbusinessnews.com/business-news-today/2016/07/pokemon-go-bringing-people-and-businesses-together.

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Allison Spooner

Allison Spooner

Allison Spooner is a writer, storyteller, copywriter, marketing content creator and communicator. She uses her communication and creative writing skills to articulate the stories and messages that businesses can't express themselves. She has been telling the stories of businesses across the state of Michigan for 10 years. You can find both her professional and her creative writing on her website, allisonspoonerwriter.com and follow her musings on Twitter @allyspoon

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