How mobile carriers successfully 'get in' on the app economy (Reader Forum)

How mobile carriers successfully ‘get in’ on the app economy (Reader Forum)

The prominence and dominance of mobile devices in the world needs no intro. But what about the actions that are taken on those devices once purchased? Americans check their phones approximately 96 times a day equating to 4.8 hours daily, of which 88% is spent in apps as opposed to the mobile web. They may be ordering food, doing their finances, browsing social media, playing games, booking flights and so much more — all in the four plus million apps found in the app stores.

The huge world surrounding apps on phones, aka the app economy, consists of two parties: those who make and connect mobile phones (telcos and OEMs) and those who make the apps themselves (app developers). For telcos and OEMs to engage their users and differentiate their offering, it’s crucial for them to be able to leverage the content being experienced on their devices and enabled by their networks. Doing so will help them to provide more than just a connected device, but the kind of ongoing, relevant value to their users that creates brand loyalty. The key to making that happens involves understanding how best to connect with mobile content creators — ie app developers.

Introducing app developers

For the one million app developers on the Google Play Store and the 700k on the App Store, the question isn’t about how to create an app (though of course that has its own challenges), it’s more about visibility and discoverability — how do they get more people to download their app, and who will be long term, high-value users? In a highly competitive app store environment, turning an app into a successful and sustainable business is mission critical to app developers, and therefore finding ways to scale their app’s reach, as well as ways to better monetize it, becomes a top priority.

At the same time, telcos and OEMs are looking for more reliable ways to improve their user experience at scale, and build long-term relationships with their users. Collaborating with app developers to help them promote their app, while offering the telco users a more engaging on-device experience and the telcos a way to profit from the interaction, is a key way to achieve this. Bottom line: It’s a win-win for everyone.

Connecting to the app economy

Telcos may opt to connect to app developers and their apps, either directly or through a third party. Either way, offering apps to their users at the “right” times can offer huge value, both in terms of incremental revenue per device, but more importantly with regards to increasing stickiness and reducing user churn.

Apps may be offered during the unboxing process for example, at a time when a new phone owner is excited with their new purchase and looking for ways to customize their phone to their preferences. As opposed to static preloads, by creating a relevant and dynamic app promotion experience into the device setup, telcos can provide users with a seamless path (and the full control) to setting up their new phone with everything they want and need, creating a more positive device experience they then associate with their carrier or OEM. For app developers, appearing as a recommended app during the device setup provides unique and critical visibility for their offering at an incredibly high engagement touchpoint, when users are fully focused on downloading apps.

Another alternative is to offer apps at relevant touchpoints through the device journey. For example, offering a battery saving app when it’s clear the battery is running low, offering a local restaurant suggestion app when someone lands in a different country, and offering shopping apps around the holiday season are just a few ideas. Being present and offering content at points when it’s relevant, welcome and natural is a unique way to deliver more value to the user and help increase user satisfaction.

To own the app experience in a deeper way, telcos could also build their own apps or hub of apps. Being the content owner of a news, weather, gaming (or other) regular go-to app, creates a place for daily engagement and building value, helping create additional opportunities to provide value through the device. App hubs can also be created and managed by the telco to help facilitate the app discovery process, especially in app categories like gaming where new apps are constantly being released.

For telcos, getting in on the app economy by engaging with users through apps — where they spend such a large portion of their time — is the ideal step towards creating a richer device experience. An important question for telcos, which due to their relatively complex structure and high regulatory standards often move slowly compared to the fast-paced app world, is how they can find the right tech partner, with the expertise and flexibility to adapt to the vibrant app economy, and help them move up the ladder in carrier-led engagement.

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