Is the app development services market becoming commoditised?

The mobile app market has been booming for the last two years, but have we seen the last of the app frenzy? And is it time to turn our attention to alternative emerging platforms such as web TV?

Sometimes it seems as if every man and his dog have an app now. What once was the latest must have technology showcase for brands big and small, is now simply another tick box in the digital marketing strategy checklist.

Consumers have seen every game, gimmick and geegaw in app form designed to make jaws drop and mouths chatter, and what was once shiny and new is now quickly dismissed as yet another cheap cash in. It is no longer enough to make your app react to every tilt, swivel and shake, and standing out among the crowded app stores is becoming increasingly difficult.

Our customers are demanding ever more advanced features, but with so much competition, there are now proportionally more app developers than there is demand for their services, we find ourselves asking; “are we witnessing the beginning of the end for app development in what is already a saturated market”? After all, while agencies such as ours can offer the edge when it comes to creating the apps that will not only get high downloads and monetization (through increased sales or app sales) but also get people talking about your company, in tough economic times cash is king and it is hard to compete against the overseas cheap labour market or even two guys above a garage who’ve done one app in college. Clearly the market is becoming commoditised as developers are forced to compete on price rather that quality and reliability.

Mobile apps are no longer shiny and new, and themselves facing increasing competition from pure web solutions and new channels that use similar technological infrastructure but offer different ways of engaging. The last 18 months has seen the introduction of HTML5 and web app capabilities (the hybrid app). This introduction may be set to change the app world completely as it is not realistic in the long term to have an app for every store you visit, every product you own and every website you bookmark. Perhaps the most notable web app to come onto the market in just the last few days is the new BBC news mobile site.

We’re always looking to the future, and so we have to be honest with ourselves and say that app development is now just another tool in the toolbox, but not the ‘be and end all’ by any means. Instead, we’ll continue to concentrate on where we can add the most value, helping our customers’ roadmap the next 2-3 years in digital, not the next 2-3 months.

Only one thing can be certain, while the excitement and interest surrounding apps gets pushed to the side, there is no denying that the future of mobile remains strong. It’s important to react quickly in changing markets and to recognise the need to burn old ships and move forward. As doors close to app development, they open to mobile web.