Wednesday, September 23

The Apotheosis of App Craze

Every Man undergoes an existential crisis at some point in life. This stems from the basic idea that there is one point of time in your life where you start pondering about the meaning behind your work, actions, goals, achievements and simply your mere existence in this universe. I came across one such crisis when I was wondering about the purpose of Scribd app. Bear with me as this post might look like an Op-Ed column from a Neanderthal.

The purpose of an app has always puzzled me. With the advent of smart phones, which by its definition, designed to make the lives of people easier by providing all the functionality and utilities that are frankly unnecessary and remove the aspects that are, well, necessary. Take for instance Google Maps. This is such a fantastic app that gives you directions to places that you already know the route for, irrespective of how much ever effort you put in to forget it viz. Work. But the real purpose of it comes when you travel to some place unknown. You look lost and now you take your little "map app" companion, tap in the location you want to know/go and voila, you realize you don't have mobile network. For people using Apple maps you might feel as though you are time traveling because when you want to know the location that you are currently in, say home, it will be shown as inside a Pyramid in ancient Egypt. The one dreadful thing that's common to both locations might be the existence of "Mummy".

I condone the advent of technology to actually serve a purpose to human life. If a technology helps us save time and let's us do something productive, am all for it. But the irritation arises only because of, not how it is misused, but how it is abused. Long back there was something called as call taxi where you just phone a company, request a cab to an address, tell them a time and voila you get one hundred calls from the driver asking for directions. Even though it was really simple, the new tech-savvy cab companies identified the problem areas and came with a beautiful solution- mobile app. How does it work? You download the app --> Try to open it --> Phone shuts down because of high memory usage and low internal memory --> Restart the phone and uninstall other apps that you don't use it, yes the news app --> Reinstall the app again because the first installation is corrupted --> Open the app and it will throw an error that you need to turn on your GPS setting --> You turn on and start configuring settings --> Phone shuts down because of low battery --> Restart phone and open the app and finish settings --> Type in address and search for cab --> Book the cab and voila ... you get 50 calls from the driver asking for directions.

Okay that might be exaggeration but if you are looking for factually accurate post then I suggest you read the "About" page of this blog. But my point is simple. Apps are nothing but USPs. Companies understand that as Unique Selling Points but they actually are Useless Silly Programs that just suck in the phone memory to the maximum, drain the battery and make it unusable for the purpose it was actually invented in the first place - calling. I am not talking about all apps. I love the little utility apps that are available out there in the market that does simple tasks like scientific calculation, Guitar tuning, finding ridiculous baby names to laugh about etc. But what is the point of an app if it is just going to operate through mobile data anyway? Isn't the web already doing the same? I was told that "Myntra" acts only as an app without any website and Flipkart is going to follow suit. First of all I don't shop for clothes in mobile or computer. To be very frank I don't shop for clothes at all. I still have a T-shirt and Jean that was presented to me as a gift by my parents for my 14th birthday. So I was not that reactive to the above seemingly market collapsing change.

The tipping point for me however was when I started reading an article in Scribd and midway, a dialog opened up saying "Please download our app to finish reading this article". This is probably one of the very few instances wherein the word "Please" actually represents an incorrigible arrogance. Just because you spent so much money on developing app, a decision process in which I was in no way involved, I don't have to download your app to actually finish reading what I was already reading on the web. It's more like barging in your loo when you are in the middle of your business and asking you to use the next one for finishing what you are supposed to finish there. If you want to retain mobile and web traffic then retain both platforms or if that is too much cost then retain one. You can't have your cake and eat it too. I see this happening across a lot of apps recently and that just makes me go mad.

I think that's enough burst of anger for today and now I need to tweet this article and see what kind of comments I get. Yes of course am using the mobile app because, you know, am a hypocrit ;)