When the iPhone was first released, the only way developers could make their mark on the device was through web apps. Steve Jobs famously rejected the idea of native third-party apps. It was possibly his biggest, most visible blunder. 1.2 million apps and 75 billion downloads later, the iOS App Store is the biggest unlikely success story in the history of application stores.
However, those 75 billion downloads come with an asterisk. Recent data shows that 20% of them are opened only once, then discarded. However, there are many apps that are only intended to be used once. For many companies, those small, temporary apps make a big long-term difference. Here are a few examples:
There are many conferences on the geek and tech lover’s calendar from Apple’s own WWDC to SXSW. Let’s not forget ComicCon, Burning Man, and the Star Trek convention. For many people, these conferences are prohibitively expensive to attend. For some percentage of those attendees, it is a once in a lifetime experience. These conferences offer their own feature-rich apps for attendees. In many ways, these apps take the place of paper programs, but with more content and interactivity.
Such apps serve the needs of both large and small conferences. While the big conferences have their own development teams, the smaller ones may need to outsource the development of their iPhone event app. That is not a problem. With the right service, they can still get the same great design, content management, and platform native features as the big conferences.
It is irrelevant that the app is used only once. It will make a lasting impression on the user who becomes a life-long advocate of your company due to that positive experience.
Not everyone can afford frequent trips to exotic vacation spots. Those professional travelers have their frequently used goto apps to manage flight, hotel, an rental car information. For many others, a nice vacation is a very rare event. They may use a variety of apps to research their trip. They may use your travel app only once. But it is that one-time use that helped them decide to book a room at your hotel, or visit your sight-seeing excursion, or take your flight. That one-time app use might be worth $1,000 to the business that provided the app.
Gaming and book apps
Almost everyone who has taken more than one flight knows the joys of browsing the airport bookstore minutes before boarding. There is a sad desperation to find something, anything that will alleviate the boredom of air travel. In that instance, no one is looking for a book or game that they want to keep. They are just trying to pass a few hours of their lives with something interesting to occupy their minds. For modern travelers, that late bookstore run has been replaced with the App Store run.
A visit to the iBooks store may score a title that will be read only once. Tapping into the gaming section of the App Store will net a game that will likely be played only once. It doesn’t matter. Those applications served the purpose for which they were intended. At a summer camp, a participant my download a geotagging app they will only use for that occasion. That doesn’t make it any less fun. A host might pick up a one-time use party game that just might save the day. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many times a person opens your app, as long as it brought joy and profit to user and provider, it was a successful app.
Featured image credit: Woman using her Mobile Phone in the street, night light/ShutterStock