Mobile apps have proliferated since the first iPhone arrived in 2007. The market for these apps today is enormous, with $88 billion in app-generated revenue in 2016, a number expected to grow to $189 billion by 2020.
The growth comes in part from ever-increasing adoption of smartphones and tablets that use mobile apps. Beyond the sheer numbers, though, apps are evolving with the technology that hosts them and with the capabilities of programmers who develop them. As the industry grows, some new trends are driving them from standalone entities and into a more integrated presence for users.
Progressive web apps are apps that open up into browser-quality user experiences, blending the access and simplicity of a mobile app with the UX of a full website. Some of the better known companies that use progressive web apps include Pinterest, Forbes, Twitter Lite, and Alibaba. The apps are characterized by near-instant load times and interfaces that allow easy engagement and page views. The combination of page speed and user immersion creates an experience that will continue to bring more developers into this kind of mobile app technology.
Mobile apps developed in this way represent an important step forward for the companies using them. They strike a balance between load times that avoid user frustration and content that gives enough for most users to avoid needing to log in to the full website on a computer. Progressive web apps are becoming more common and provide functionality that will be deemed essential in the near future.
Beyond the integration of website-level capabilities, many apps have in the past failed to connect to each other. A single organization or its clients may have dozens of apps that perform related but distinct functions. If these do not interact with each other, they require separate entering of data for each app in a way that becomes not only cumbersome, but prone to user error. For this reason, app developers are working to create better inter-app integration of both functionality and underlying data.
This integration will happen in two directions. In the short term, the focus will be on developing new versions of mobile apps that speak to each other more efficiently. Upgrades will allow better interaction for the functions apps already perform. Over time, though, more robust apps will contain more functionality, allowing organizations and individuals to access more of what they do in a single app, and bring in data from legacy apps to create a more cohesive app experience.
Finally, mobile apps today generate revenue through a combination of initial download fees and the availability of in-app purchases. For these to work efficiently and securely, app developers need to build in payment facilitator technology to allow payments to process. Because app users tend to make these purchasing decisions quickly, the payment processing must occur almost instantaneously.
Software developers will continue to build this out, focusing on working with Payfac providers who focus on efficiency and security. With the cross-app integration underway in the industry, the ability to keep up with the merging software code and the cyberthreats emerging daily will set apart the best Payfacs, and distinguish the best apps on the market.
The mobile apps market changes every day, with new offerings and new developments. But as the market matures, Payfac offerings and capabilities will be a key differentiator for the most sophisticated developers.
Shannon is currently the SVP Sales and Business Development for GlobalOnePay, a division of Pivotal Payments Inc. His goal is to establish strategic partnerships with sales organizations that specialize in the eCommerce space globally. As commerce shifts online, there is exceptional growth potential that Shannon can help ISVs, SaaS, Marketplaces and platforms tap into, to drive payments into profits.