|‘There’s an App for that’. This phrase has become the slogan for current times. And funnily enough not too far back some of us may remember living in a world without Apps.
How have they taken over the world? Well, first, in the world of digital migrants, which actually comprises of the vast majority of the world, computers and software were alien tools. Learning to use them was not an easy task and specialists were required to assist you anytime you stumbled while completing an assignment that needed a computer.
Then came the Web that now virtually connected you to everyone else. Suddenly software programs did not seem so forbidding when all you needed was ‘Professor Google’ to answer all your queries. The ‘browser’ became your new best friend who could be the vehicle for exploring the mysteries that you wanted to solve. And, what was not visible to the user was that the browser took you to applications that resolved all your queries. As the Web advanced, the ubiquitous Application became the friendly App, as the Web moved from lines of text to the colourful world of image, audio, video, and a combination of all things put to together. Suddenly, the world of knowledge became easier to access and the friendly App was always accessible to you – and what’s more was more often than not, ‘free’ to use. From a world of costly software programs to the liberating world of free access – things could not be better for the common user.
But the best was yet to come: the birth of smart phones (and all phones are already becoming smart phones to the extent that very soon the term ‘smart phone’ will be an oxymoron) has made Apps a way of life for us now. Think Apple and the App Store is where you regularly visit to check out what’s new and discover a rich world of over a million Apps. And, yes, the other good news is that with Apps you are never out-of-date as they are constantly refreshed.
Even those who do not shop at the virtual market places are already living in App-land, as it were. As technically, Apps are ‘web-based applications that are designed to be used entirely within the browser without having to install complicated software’, anytime you use Gmail or Google Docs or other such tools, you are already using Apps.
The App-wave is rising. Incidentally, some new reports indicate that the most widely used smartphone App currently is Google Maps, followed by Facebook and YouTube. No longer is it seen as a frivolous game vehicle, today businesses use Apps to interface with their constituents - both internally with employees and extramurally with customers. Thereby, they have become business disrupters both in a positive and negative way. While the ‘free’ culture on the Net has become a challenge for business, it has also given birth to the concept of ‘freemium’. A new concept, this essentially provides for an amalgam of free-plus model: you have the basic offering offered free to enjoy and if you are really keen on having a bigger bite of the product, get ready to pay a fee. The other interesting aspect of the App based model is that pricing too is extremely moderate. The business is built on ‘pay-per-use’ or on ’pay-as-you-grow’ model and in some cases (for instance, in games), virtual currencies are a premium buy for the player.
While Apps are fun to use – game Apps are the among the most widely free Apps in both Android and Apple market places, think ‘Angry Birds’ – they have also become a source of mischief. Net security experts warn of nasty malware finding their way into your systems (phone or computers) riding on the back of the innocent looking App. But that need not deter us from riding the App wave.
Thus what we have is the brave new world of Apps – your surfboard on the cloud to enjoy your photographs, music, games, and, yes, your business workload!
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