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App Friday: The mobile app bubble is about to burst

This is a guest post from Mills (@millustwo), co-owner of ustwo, a multi-platform app development studio based in London and Malmo, Sweden. In the last year alone ustwo has released 16 apps, including the MouthOff app which we used to make our robot iPhone mask.

Call me a pessimist but I think something bad is coming our way. This is the year of the ‘mobubble’, where we will see the mobile bubble burst for some. It will be caused by the fact that everyone continues to jump on the mobile bandwagon without necessarily offering any value.

There are many app development companies out there with a strong heritage in mobile UI work. They have been behind the scenes pushing the boundaries of development, while being the driving force behind the massive success of the mobile app market. The time has come for these companies to shine, but the sheer volume of low grade applications that relentlessly materialise on a daily basis, is strangling good developers.

According to AppShopper, 4,491 iPhone apps were released on 18th December. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Sounds like a melting pot of talent, creativity and innovation to anyone unaware of what’s really going on. The sad truth is that it’s getting increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to navigate through all the crap apps and find good ones.

There’s no doubt that some quality apps succeed in the iPhone app store but from a small developers perspective, the money and effort required to promote apps is massive and simply not worth it. It’s time to clean up the industry and the market place – let the talent and the best apps shine more brightly. Most importantly, it’s time for all those hidden gems to be discovered from the depths of obscurity.

Unfortunately I’m seeing companies springing up all over the place offering at best a mobile solution and at worst nothing but a mobile related gimmick. Where’s the quality and innovation? It wasn’t long ago we saw the same thing happen during the web boom – huge investment backing the craziest ideas with no real understanding of how to truly utilise the medium.

I’m getting sick and tired of rehashed ideas, companies jumping on the mobile bandwagon all hoping to get paid and rewarded to provide a mediocre service, just because it’s in vogue. Case in point is the countless number of copycat apps that litter the iPhone app store. Why copy another person’s idea? I can’t understand it. Companies must offer real value while keeping standards high.

As the mobile app industry continues to expand and the more unscrupulous operators fatten along with it, we will see a backlash. App developers have to offer consumers quality apps and make money for their investors or the companies that employ them, otherwise the ‘mobubble’ is going to pop in all our faces.


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