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Are apps making computers obsolete?

September 13, 2009

AP photo by Lm Otero

AP photo by Lm Otero

Well, today’s the big day – the first BIG day in a new season of Fantasy Football. Yes, I know the season opened on Thursday with a great throw-down between the Titans and the Steelers, but I didn’t have any big hitters in my fantasy leagues, so for me that was just a fun game to watch, and a game in which I wasn’t heavily invested.

However, today, with more than 13 season openers, it begins my manic season of watching multiple teams – just to see how my players are performing. This used to mean sitting in front of the TV while my husband and I jostled back and forth over the laptop, seeing how each of our players was performing in our respective leagues (and sometimes against each other).

Well, thanks to a new free app for the iPhone – we don’t need to do that anymore. Each of us now has the Yahoo! Fantasy Football ’09 app on our phones, so we can each monitor our own teams without handing the computer back and forth. And, if that wasn’t great enough, an extra bonus is that the Yahoo! app claims it will provide up-to-date stats this year – for free – which is an even better deal than monitoring on a laptop, where you have to pay for up to the minute stats.

So, it made me think of how rarely I actually need to use my computer – aside from work and school of course – but really, in my personal life, I can do almost everything I need to on my iPhone. And I don’t doubt the same holds true for other smart-phone users. I can check my e-mail, update my blog, buy darned near anything, pay bills, and more – basically anything I could do on my computer, but in many cases, because of the wealth of great apps available, I can actually do it faster on my iPhone than I could on my computer.

I recently saw this video from Socialnomics that said in only 9 months iPod/iPhone application downloads hit 1,000,000,000 (yes, that is one billion). That statistic tells me that if a company doesn’t have an app in the iTunes store they are missing out on reaching not just their customers, but millions of potential new customers.

However, like the rest of social media, just having an app to have an app won’t do you a whole lot of good if it isn’t relevant to your customer base. There are thousands of companies with Twitter accounts and Facebook pages that only have them because they think in order to jump into social media, ‘that’s what you are supposed to have.’ But, a languishing Facebook or Twitter account will do nothing for your brand or your company nor will it increase your presence and reach through a social media platform unless you make it interactive and pertinent.

Similarly, an app that doesn’t offer some kind of fun game, or useful service to the user will be just as pointless as the thousands and thousands of Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages. So how will you design your app to make it relevant? That’s the challenge many companies face, but some creative thinking could lead to a significant and critical boost to the bottom line.

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