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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 25 Aug 2016

Do I really need your app? Do I want it? Do I have space for it?

Can you call a business a "web site" if they try to force you to use an app to access their content on a mobile device?

I guess everything these days is a "social network," "e-commerce platform," "content provider," or some other phrase or three that escape me at this particular moment.

There are two social networks -- one is an employment-based network, the other a dining-reviews network -- that won't let me see content at various times without downloading their mobile application.

Bet you can guess who I'm talking about.

The first is LinkedIn. I don't remember having much trouble accessing LinkedIn on my phone or tablet, but I get these emails from them that say, "So and So has an update." I click for the update, and it sends me to a come-on for the LinkedIn app.

I'm not getting that app. So I don't get the content.

The other one -- the dining-review app -- is worse.

That's Yelp, in case you didn't figure it out.

Every time you go to their site on a phone or tablet, the top of the page is a massive plea to download and run their app.

And then the web site wastes no time in telling you that you'll only get a few dining reviews from real people in the browser. If you want more, you'll have to get the app.

I don't want the app. So I lose out on your content -- and any ad impressions you might be offering to monetize my experience.

Why don't I want these two apps?

1) Not everybody has a 128GB iPhone. My el-cheapo Android phone is limping along with 8GB of storage, and that is double my previous phone's 4GB. Even though I have a 32GB SD card on board, there's only so much that can go on it in terms of apps (thanks for that, Android). Some apps won't go on the SD card, and most store data on the phone's memory regardless of where they are installed. So I have to be very selective in what I do have on the phone.

2) I don't need an app for a site or service I use infrequently. It's just clutter, and I'd rather use the browser. Even if I had a 64GB phone, I don't want a dozen pages of apps to swipe through.

3) Your app is not that good. Most apps don't do more than mimic a browser-delivered web experience. Maybe some users feel "safer" using an app rather than a web site. Those days are gone. Web apps (really just fancy web sites with lots of Javascript) do so much client-side that they really are apps that users don't have to download and keep on their phones.

The craziest one these days is Amazon.

Amazon will pay you $5 just to use their app.

Why?

Because, for Android anyway, their app is not in the Google Play store, and you have to download it and allow your phone to run non-Play Store apps.

Most users find this daunting and don't want to do it. But maybe $5 will change their minds.

I just discovered that the Amazon is preloaded on my Android phone, so maybe if I launch it I'll get the $5? Probably not.

But do I even need this app? It will alert me if crap I want to buy is available, on sale, or who knows what.

I use Amazon enough that maybe the app is worth it.

But most of the apps out there for things that can be taken care of with a web site? No, I don't want your app. I don't have room on the phone for it.

I sort of understand that you feel you need an app. That it's part of your business plan. But at least give me a choice. If you push to hard on making me download and run your app just to sample your service, chances are I never will. And you lose a potential customer. Or hundreds (or thousands) of them.