“Apps” is a word we deal with a lot on this site, and one that you undoubtedly read a lot when on Facebook or your iPhone or anywhere in the mobile/social world. On the one hand it’s obvious that this just refers to applications for computers or any platform, but it’s got a much more specific meaning within the Web 2.0 world.
Apps are sort of about taking software and making it easy and accessible. Cheap, fun, and very specific. Unlike a program that offers you a lot of different things you can do, apps are very specific. A lot like the iTunes store, the app store has allowed people to get the sort of software solutions they need in one place, convenient and easy. It’s sort of the opposite of a software bundle, just like buying a single is the opposite of buying the album.
Whether this is better for corporations or individuals is up for some debate. Some say that apps remove the ability to present a smooth complete package of software and UI, and allow users to decide what’s interesting or the best in the marketplace. On one hand this seems to point to a world where corporations are cut out by individuals making apps, but it also seems to say that market pressure just means that corporations have the resources to make the better apps.
You can see this in different marketplaces. For the most part, profit-driven apps dominate Facebook, but you have a much wider variety available on smart phones. And while web apps have been around for a while, it’s really the smart phone and the invention of variations on the app store that have really led to the massive growth in the app world.
What this means practically is that rather than spending a lot of time and energy into creating a difficult complicated program, people have the capability of building programs built specifically to one problem. Even if that problem is “How do I promote my company through apps”. And because they’re cheap for businesses, they’re cheap for users, which makes them easier to distribute.
It also means that if your business is looking for a solution, there’s likely something specifically tailored to that problem that is available cheaply. And using apps intelligently can help you to better engage with your market. Things like Groupon, FourSquare, and LinkedIn Apps can be majorly useful to a business, if you know how to use them correctly.