How Startups Can Succeed as “Mega-Apps” Dominate App Store

September 19, 2016 - 2 minutes read


Apps are like people — they tend to congregate in the interest of convenience.

User behavior has changed dramatically in recent years, and there’s no longer a feeling of excitement about seeking out, downloading, and learning to use smartphone apps. Instead, users expect things to “just work.”

Between Google’s predictive information services and the prevalence of Artificial Intelligence assistants like Siri, mobile app users expect everything they need from a phone to come under one roof. This has lead to a race to see which mobile app developers can dominate and become the “one app to rule them all.” Does this mean there aren’t opportunities for small startups and niche apps? Certainly not.

For startups and mobile app developers, the new secret to success is integration. The rising popularity of chat apps promises a future where users can summon Ubers, order flowers, buy clothes, and complete any other sort of financial transaction directly within mega-apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

For startups, this isn’t necessarily a death sentence — it just means that services have to be dialed down to where the core value proposition can exist in a speech bubble, surfaced to a user based on the content of their conversation. When implemented properly, inter-app integrations like this could drive enormous revenue for individual startups, particularly in on-demand economies, all while reducing friction between the user and their purchase. If cloud technologies and LTE wireless continue on their current track, NYC app developers could be seeing the bulk of their revenue come from users who haven’t even download their app.

Even if western chat apps like Messenger don’t become catch-all apps like China’s WeChat or Japan’s Line, the probability of streamed apps and enhanced AI assistant capability point to a future where users and downloads won’t be so closely aligned. How exactly mobile app developers can optimize their apps to reach the maximum customer base in such an app ecosystem remains to be seen — but chances are it will create huge opportunities for yet-to-be-seen unicorn startups.

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