App Growth Series

Every year,  Mary Meeker, a prominent internet and mobile analyst with KPCB, does a detailed postmortem analysis of Internet Trends. She also provides entrepreneurs, a window into the future of what innovations to expect.

This is part of a series of blogs about what opportunities we see for app publishers and with recommendations on how to further grow apps. 

This is fourth blog in this app growth series.  

The first one was about China & India surpass US internet users, and Growth opportunity for app publishers.  

The second one was about Maturing app market & subscription incentives means growth opportunity for app publishers

The third was about Digital commerce and app growth.


Major sections of Mary Meeker’s presentation and WWDC had a common theme that stood out. Bots. Services that can be used from within the messaging platform to perform tasks in the context of the messaging platform.

botWe think bots will change how we interact with services and shared our views before Facebook’s and now Apple’s announcements: Mobile Messaging: Yesterday vs. today & tomorrow – Messaging between people and with roBOTs.

Apple is also introducing a store for discovering installable bots or iMessage Apps.

Messaging Evolution

Messaging has evolved from simple conversations to expressive communications using emojis, photos, scribbled photos, animated gifs, stickers, voice conversations and collaborative apps.

Expressive communications

Emoticons like : ) have been used since the 1980’s.  Fully graphical emoticons or emoji’s like 😀have been in use since 1990’s.  In October 2011, Line introduced stickers and have been added in messaging apps like MessageMe,  Kik, WeChat, Path, Kakao Talk, Cubie, Maaii, Viber and many more.  Facebook added stickers in 2014 and iOS 10 announced stickers in iMessage in fall of 2016.  Line in one of the quarters made $17M selling stickers.

Animated GIFs in messages is another popular way to communicate expressively.

A theme that emerged in in the last year is creative story telling using the mobile device camera and sharing and collaborating using messaging.  E.g. Snapchat

Messaging as a platform continues to gain usage is used more often than social media.

Bots

Slack, Telegraph, WeChat, and others, have offered integrations or bots (roBOTs) to allow making the messaging app more relevant and useful to the users.   For example, if I need a service that translates messages in real-time between German and English, I install a bot or integration. If I need the lyrics of what my favorite Music app playing I install the Music Bot. Other examples include an Uber bot to call a ride from within a messaging app or talking to Hyatt customer service over messaging to check the status o a hotel room.

Facebook introduced bot integration earlier and Apple is introducing such an integration with iOS 10.

Bots versus iMessage Apps

Just like how we have Mobile Web and Native apps on mobile devices, we will have bots that will run on the cloud and bots that will need to be installed. Cloud-based bots will continue the web promise of not requiring to install an app, and iMessage Apps will offer native and richer experiences.

Cloud-based bots will be able to access device hardware via the messaging platform hosting the bots, similar to how web pages can access mobile device hardware (see my patent WO2013063446A1)

The mobile web vs. native apps discussion reincarnates as cloud-based bots on Facebook Messenger and Apple iMessage Apps

Both cloud-based and app-based bots (iMessage Apps) can use deep linking to communicate with apps installed on  device.  Apps impleshould implement deep links so bots can hand-off more complex interactions to the app.  For example you could buy items using a Paypal bot waiting a messaging platform, but switch to the PayPal app to manage cards used for transactions.

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Also read Mobile Messaging: Yesterday vs. today & tomorrow – Messaging between people and with roBOTs

iMessage Apps api

iMessage Apps allows app users access to your apps without having to leave Messages. They can conveniently share content, edit photos, play games, send payments, and collaborate with friends within a custom interface designed by the app publisher.

  • Present a custom user interface inside the Messages app: MSMessagesAppViewController
  • Insert text, stickers, or media files into the Messages app’s input field: MSConversation
  • Create interactive messages that carry app-specific data: MSMessage
  • Update interactive messages to create games or collaborative apps: MSSession

Voice as an interface

Mary Meeker reported that approximately, 25% of searches are via voice. Accuracy, followed by latency, are the two key metrics for a production speech system.  99% accuracy in speech recognition is a game changer: As speech recognition accuracy goes from say 95% to 99%, all of us in the room will go from barely using it today to using it all the time.

Apple is making Siri available to developers and many developers are expected to develop for Siri as Apple is taking care of converting speech to text to intent.  Developers provide static and personal vocabulary and user interface as extensions.

App growth and iOS 10

Apps that take advantage of new iOS technologies get special attention on the app store and get promoted in various sections.  This is a great growth opportunity for app publishers to take advantage of these features in there apps.
The iOS 10 SDK includes new APIs and services that enable new categories of apps and features.  Apps can now extend to SiriMessagesMaps and Phone Calls to provide more engaging functionality.  iOS10 introduces these extensions: Call Directory for phone calls, Intents and Intents UI for Siri, Messages for iMessage Apps, Notification Content and Notification Service for notifications, and Sticker Pack for iMessages.

Posted by Dickey Singh

Dickey Singh is the CEO and co-founder at Pyze and has over two decades of experience in mobile, Big Data and SaaS. He started Pyze to help app publishers engage, retain and grow their mobile users using automation. https://twitter.com/DickeySingh Get Pyze: https://pyze.com