Transmit China: The Mobile App Economy

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in an invite-only media conference titled Transmit China which brought together media execs from around the world for 2 days of collaboration and discussion on where the opportunities and challenges lay ahead for the ecosystem.
The event itself was hosted right next to the Great Wall of China, about 2 hours outside Beijing (with traffic), a beautiful venue that helped all of us “get away” from the day-to-day and have thought-provoking debate on the future of our industry.

I was asked to host and facilitate a session on the mobile app economy, with a focus on three sub-topics: opportunities, challenges and the future. Here are a few thoughts on what was shared…

Opportunities:

*New business models: with content and media (of all kinds) shifting to a new platform, this opens up opportunities to avoid some of the “mistakes” of online models and experiment with new models.

*Global: a definite theme given the mix of audience from around the world, examples were given of many businesses (including Polar) that are primarily located in one part of the world but have clients and users all over. For example, the CEO of Papaya Mobile, a Chinese-based mobile social game platform with 25M+ users, shared that they are focused solely on the US and Europe.

*Social: the inherent nature of human behavior to want to always be connected to others screams new opportunities for how social is thought about in different “applications” of content and media on mobile.

Challenges:

*Different players: developers, content producers, handset manufacturers and operators/carriers, a very different set of players on the value chain than any other medium media is used to. For example, Apple inserting itself into the mobile value chain and maintaining a high-degree of control clearly introduces a challenge.

*Cost to enter: high development cost (especially to build bespoke products cross-device), long time-to-market (in a space that appears to be moving very quickly) and potential rights/licensing issues for content (ie video, music) for additional platforms.

*Fragmentation: “device arrogance” is not tolerated anymore by users, operators and business (ie you cannot only think of the iPhone as your mobile strategy), high degree of OS fragmentation and App distribution options creates confusion and complexity.

Future:

*Apps everywhere: TVs, fridges, automobiles, laptops, tablets, etc., Apps will be available everywhere and my “Apps” will be available to me regardless of which devices I’m currently using.

*Technology evolution: Apps will be thought of more as an idea with the purpose of achieving a single use-case then the actual technology used to implement the idea. Today, native development is popular, tomorrow html5, the technology will continue to change but the concept of Apps will remain.

*Apps integrated: Apps will start to provide a rich companion experience cross-device, ie the way you use Microsoft PowerPoint on your laptop, iPad and iPhone are all different, although it is the same program. The laptop is used to input/create, the iPad to edit/review/share and the iPhone as a remote to advance/control. This is an example of how the App experience will evolve to fit the form factor (versus replicating the use cases across different screens).

  • http://twitter.com/stefaniaforbes Stefania S. Forbes

    Thanks for this post, it is a good overview. One thing I don’t understand is the “apps everywhere” point. Maybe this is a stupid question, but how can you have an app in your fridge?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rjindal1 Rohit Jindal

    Why not? What about an app that tells you of your refrigerator inventory before you look into it? Maybe it notes what your rate of usage is on various foods and identifies what you need to go shopping for, hence builds a shopping list for you? Simplicity and efficiency together will bring about the future.