TC Global Insights

Future of Industry

The Future of the App-Developing Industry in a Post-Covid World

Our world and all the events that comprise it, seem to be divided into before and after – life before the pandemic vs. after, that is. By default, we seem to look at everything trough this filter. It’s just the way we think now.

Take, for instance, the mobile application industry, which had already made a significant market entry well before most people knew the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic (we do now). Users, studies show, were spending about 87% of their time on apps, rather than directly on the web.

Here’s what we’ll look at today:

  • What does it all point to?
  • Industries that are expected to win big
    • Businesses and Remote Working
    • e-Healthcare
    • m-Commerce
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Digital Payments
  • The future of app development

First, let’s look at what happened après the deluge

The pandemic has largely benefitted the app-development community. As people embrace a socially-distanced and remote lifestyle, apps that enable people to work,  entertain, buy or learn online are now in demand. Healthcare, of course, has been a big demand in apps was well – Covid tracing being a good example of that.

While sectors like travel and tourism, hospitality, aviation, mass entertainment took quite a beating during the course of the pandemic, other fields such as lifestyle, multimedia, e-learning and e-commerce have seen huge profits and an ever-expanding user base. In fact, most of the users access these applications on their cellular devices. In an isolated, quarantined world, the mobile phone assumed center stage. It took on roles that were thought to be impossible a decade ago. Be it for work-from-home or for entertainment purposes, mobile devices have become that one device which people remained tethered to at all times.

From apps that support instant messaging, video and audio calls, registering for vaccines to ones that help in streaming movies and playing games, there is a lot that is keeping both the industry and our lives afloat even in times as testing as the one that we are currently in. Smartphones and the associated applications have enabled the digitalization of various aspects of our lives including retail shopping, banking, classroom education and food delivery so much that it has eased the transition from physical to virtual media. The advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science has contributed to the development of smarter and powerful mobile applications.

In short, the pandemic may just have accelerated the exponential growth of the mobile app industry.

Currently there are 3.6 billion smartphone users in the world. These numbers are expected to reach a whopping 4.3 billion by 2023. Mobile app revenues are expected to reach USD 935 billion by the end of 2023. Although the number of smartphones sold to users had slumped in 2020 by a huge margin, the numbers are expected to rise by 1535 million units by the end of 2021. The number of apps on the playstore have been reduced to 2.9 million in 2021 from the highest recorded 3.6 million back in 2018. However, this was due to a purge in 2018 where Google removed all harmful or deceiving apps from the Playstore. Consumers have been spending close to USD 143 billion on apps with cumulative downloads reaching almost 220 billion in 2020. According to App Annie’s “The State of Mobile 2021” report, the global pandemic didn’t really slow down the growth of the mobile development industry but rather “an acceleration of mobile usage habits by 2 to 3 years”.

What does it all point to?

With the increasing number of smartphone users, the scope for mobile apps is also increasing manifold. The availability of smartphones with different operating systems have allowed users to freely switch between each type according to their requirements or fancy. Popular smartphone operating systems include Google’s Android, Apple Inc’s IOS and Microsoft’s windows for mobile. While the android community is a lot more accommodating to newer applications that cater to different requirements, Apple employs stricter regulations when it comes to the quality and security of the applications that get deployed on its app store. If users get a sense of security and privacy, they might be willing to try out more applications, thereby increasing the market share.

The use of AI in developing applications has become a very attractive prospect. With the use of AI, applications that can recognise and process images, text, emotions and features can be developed. Personalisation of apps can be made possible with the use of AI as the underlying AI architecture will be able to understand the behavioural patterns of a user and predict/suggest personalised services. If you are interested in learning more about AI, you can read all about it here.

The integration of Extended Reality (XR) technology in mobile apps have been popularised. XR is an umbrella term that is used to refer to Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies. Using such immersive technologies, the gap between the real and virtual worlds can be bridged. It can be used to develop applications that can help children in learning things in an interactive manner, healthcare applications that can help physicians to learn about the physiology and anatomy of bodies, and improve entertainment by building immersive environments – be it gaming or movies. With the market expected to reach USD 571 billion by the end of 2025, it is safe to assume that the combination of XR and mobile applications are here to stay. In case you are interested in extended reality, we discuss more about it here.

By building applications that include the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, mobile phones can be used to control a number of connected devices. In fact, many applications have been developed that can control light bulbs, music systems, automobiles, and sensors with various functionalities. One can control numerous devices from any part of the world through their smartphones.

The popularity of e-commerce applications have skyrocketed during the past few years and it has only gone up during the pandemic. Millions of people have relied on such applications to shop for essentials as well as non-essential goods, without venturing out of their homes. One could even say that such applications have played a major role in helping people stay indoors while having whatever they need delivered to them.

With the rise of digital payments, more and more applications that belong to the category have cropped up. With every iteration, the applications aim to improve security and enhance user experience through attractive UX/UI and reward schemes. Due to the ease of use, such applications are gaining more traction and are being used by millions across the globe, generating massive revenues for the developers and investors alike.

Gaming applications have gained a lot of popularity during lockdowns as people seek alternatives to make their days more tolerable. As such, the number of users downloading and installing gaming applications have risen over the last few months. In fact, this rise is calculated to be nearly 40%, according to statistics.

Social media applications and those developed exclusively for conducting business have seen a lot of takers over the last year. These applications have simplified the whole work-from-home setup and have enabled teams to host online conferences and meetings. Video conferencing applications are being downloaded by swathes of Internet users for various purposes such as lectures, workshops, conferences, meetings and even family gatherings.

Many small players have entered the game of app development as more and more native and indigenously developed applications are becoming popular. The tides may be in favor of such small-scale groups or organisations as they have capitalized on the pandemic and are developing applications that offer much better functionalities and features.

Many industries are seeing a high demand for application developers and these opportunities are expected to shoot upwards in the coming years. Let’s look at some of the industries where mobile applications are expected to make a big splash.

Industries that are expected to win big
  • Businesses and Remote Working
    With millions of employees working from home, most organisations have invested heavily in mobile applications that help to improve productivity and provide seamless connectivity. Over the past year, apps such as Zoom, Skype and Google meet have seen a dramatic increase in the number of users. According to reports, business apps have seen a massive 275% growth in the last year.With more and more small and medium-scale businesses realising the potential of switching to applications, there has been a gradual rise in the number of online stores. These stores need very less resources while improving connectivity. This may be a reflection of what lies in store for us in a post-Covid world.
  • E-Healthcare.
    With a rise in the number of people getting infected with COVID-19, we are facing an acute shortage of physicians, healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities. By identifying who needs hospitalization, it is possible to reduce the pressure on the hospitals. In order to do this, many applications are being developed with capabilities to offer telemedicine services. Patients, through the apps, can directly interact with healthcare providers, understand what their symptoms mean and obtain advice regarding the treatment and medication of their illnesses. This is not, thankfully, the only thing such applications can do. We now have applications where we can order medicines, book tests (including blood tests, body check-ups and scans), and consult with medical practitioners. We also have applications that provide personalised services in the form of nutrition and diet, and fitness. e-Health applications will be capable of storing medical records of patients which can ensure seamlessness in terms of providing healthcare. One can say that good health is at your fingertips!
  • M-commerce
    As previously discussed, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce companies. Mobile commerce or mCommerce, in 2021, has had 3.5 times the revenue it generated in 2016. Not surprisingly, users have spent a lot of time shopping through mobile applications, with an increase of over 30% in the amount of time spent on such applications. From USD 1 trillion in 2016, the m-Commerce market has reached a whopping USD 3 trillion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 3.6 trillion by the end of this year. App Annie reported a rise of 30% in the number of users who spent time on shopping apps.
  • Media and Entertainment.
    Newer technologies like artificial intelligence, immersive technologies and others have led to the development of applications that can provide seamless entertainment on-the-go. With cinema halls staying shut for extended periods and families staying at home with extra time to kill, film producers are looking at OTT platforms as the next big thing to watch out for. In fact, many filmmakers are capitalising on the fact that most people are stuck at home and are even producing content that is specifically made to cater to such groups. Social media platforms have doubled as the voice of the common man where one can share their views and express their opinions. Streaming has become so popular that many vloggers have found immense success in the last few months. By 2027, the live streaming industry is expected to touch USD 184.27 billion. Of course, the popularity of these services must largely be attributed to the various applications that enable viewership.
  • Digital Payments
    With more and more people preferring to use m-Commerce applications for shopping and buying essentials, digital payments have also become popular. These reduce physical contact between people, which is especially important in the current scenario. With improved security features and ease of access, many digital payment apps have gained popularity. Between 2020 and 2025, mobile payments are expected to grow by nearly 27%. Digital payments might be the answer to reducing risks associated with money as they offer better security during transactions, are transparent and are contactless.
The future of app development

With myriad opportunities and millions of smartphone users across the planet, a digital goldmine, if you can call it, awaits application developers. The post-pandemic situation will force developers to come up with apps that can reduce physical interactions. However, as seen during the pandemic, most users prefer applications that are available free of cost as people are financially not sound. This could impact those developers who depend upon the revenue generated by their apps.

Mobile applications are definitely poised to take over the digital march and developers who can create applications that play relevant roles will be offered lucrative opportunities in various industries. It will end up being about seizing opportunities and planning ahead. Developers would do well to stay on top of their games by keeping themselves updated about the latest developments in technology and by researching the market before deploying their apps.

Date added
20.05.2021

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Future of Industry

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