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So many apps, so little time

Unfortunately, all the above feel-good facts are about to crash and burn! I’m not trying to start a flame war here. This isn’t one of those inflammatory statements made to provoke. Rajiv Makhni writes.

brunch Updated: Apr 28, 2012 18:44 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

Fact 1: There are about 75,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, about 4,30,000 apps in Google Play and about 6,10,000 in the Apple App Store.

Fact 2:
It’s impossible for a smartphone operating system to survive without being backed by thousands of apps.

Fact 3:
Apps are the most exciting space in the tech world. From developers, mobile phone manufacturers and service providers to
consumers, this is a win-win situation for all

AppUnfortunately, all the above feel-good facts are about to crash and burn! I’m not trying to start a flame war here. This isn’t one of those inflammatory statements made to provoke. Nor am I trying to set alarm bells ringing much before their time. All I’m doing is being the messenger and you’re not supposed to hate the messenger. The signs and messages are pouring in from all sides – you just need to be more aware of them.

Reason 1:As Dumb as…
Have you ever realised that your very expensive smartphone is only going to be as smart as you? It’s you who chooses the apps that are installed on it, which ones you use for your daily tasks and which ones that truly use the full potential of all that whizbang hardware lying dormant inside. Be honest – haven’t you suddenly discovered an app on your friend’s much cheaper smartphone that beats the pants off anything that you have on your top-of-the-line phone? How dumb do you feel at that time? The true power of apps is to customise your phone the way you want it to work and harness every inch of the power and potential it has. Now sit back and think this one out: do you really have the knowledge and the information on every app out there to make sure the best ones are on your phone? Do you? And there’s a reason why you never will.

Reason 2: It’s a Jungle out there
Let’s go back to those astounding numbers. 75,000 apps for Windows Phone, 4,30,000 apps for Google Play and 6,10,000 apps for Apple – vast choice, incredible array of possibilities and innovations pouring out from every nook and cranny. And yet, these very incredible numbers are sounding the death knell for apps. Unless an app is featured in the top 50 at the App Store, you’ll never really get to see it (and most top 50 lists continue to be the same – Angry Birds, Facebook, Twitter). Most ‘Top Apps for your Phone’ articles and columns in magazines and on the Web also feature the usual suspects. Unless you know the exact name of the app, most general searches do not throw up a very intelligent choice. Browsing through thousands of apps on a quest to discover the greats is a foolhardy and back-breaking exercise. And don’t even think about relying on user reviews – most are fake and the others are so ambiguous and personal that they tend to confuse more than inform. So how does a developer get a consumer to see their amazing work? And how do you – the user – discover the truly powerful hidden gems? The answer is – you don’t! For every app on your phone or Tablet, there are at least 10 others that can do a better job – you just don’t know it. Let’s not even get started on things you didn’t even know apps could do on your device. It’s a matter of simple math. If 90 per cent of apps are crap and 10 per cent are great innovations, that’s about 1,50,000 amazing apps still lying around undiscovered!

AppsReason 3: Fatigue

You buy a new device in a frenzy and download hundreds of apps – you want to try every game you’ve heard of, you want that new high-fangled utility, that silly-but-fun photo manipulation software and all the stuff you’ve seen on everybody else’s phone. That’s your first week with your new device. Cut to week four: You only use about three or four apps every day, another five or six weekly. Another 50 lie cluttered and dormant and you’ve deleted the rest. The life of most apps is literally a few days and sometimes not even that. The initial euphoria is usually gone within the first month. What you’re left with is pretty much what the phone came with and a few more.

Reason 4: Super Smartphones
There are many factors at play to come up with the next generation of smartphones. Phone hardware manufacturers, phone OS programmers and feature specialists are all working at the speed of light towards this. The next generations of smartphones may not need you to install too many apps. They may study your usage behaviour and add and subtract features on the fly. As you use your phone, it’ll study what you do, how you do it and come up with much better ways of doing it. It’ll take the guesswork and the smartness of the user out of the equation. Each of us will end up with a phone that has adapted to what we need and what we do without installing and deleting apps. Thus the need for app marketplaces may just die out with them.

Dear apps, you’ve had a great run, you’ve changed the way we do things, you’ve revolutionised our lives and made them more exciting. But it seems your time is almost up. It’s been good knowing you and we want you to know that wherever you go and whatever you do, you have our best wishes for all your future endeavours. Goodbye and good luck.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

From HT Brunch, April 29

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First Published: Apr 28, 2012 15:35 IST