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2016 trends series: App functionality on demand will blur the distinction between the web and apps

Written by: Nils Mork-Ulnes

Published on: March 11, 2016

We have collated 10 trends that we think are reshaping digital in 2016. This is the second installment of our series which looks at things that are happening now in Q1, whilst identifying trends to look out for in the rest of the year.

You may already be familiar with many of the trends we highlight in this series, but the cycle of innovation and iteration that our industry is known for means existing concepts can suddenly find radically new trajectories. In this series, we highlight ten ideas that are gaining rapid traction today, and which will reshape how we digitally interact with the world around us.

To help you organize your priorities for the trends in this series, we have sorted them as “trends to prepare for now” and “trends to start thinking about”.

Our second installment is a trend to prepare for now:

App functionality on demand will blur the distinction between the web and apps


Apps dominate the time we spend on our phones – it’s as high as 90% according to Flurry.

The app experience outperforms the mobile browser experience – it’s faster and more streamlined, typically using a cleaner UI. It also has a better integration of native functionality, such as using the camera to add credit card info rather than having to type it. This level of experience means that people prioritize apps over their mobile browser.

But app use is dominated by a small handful of social networking and messaging apps, with Facebook being by far the largest.

By some estimates, the top 0.01% of apps garner 99% of all use and monetization.

This concentration of attention is a huge barrier for mobile app developers and threatens the diversity of choice that we are used to from the web.

The two largest platforms – Apple and Google – need to address those barriers or risk leaving customers with much poorer diversity as part of their ecosystem.

Google has already introduced streaming of apps and we should expect to see other new ways of accessing app functionality in 2016. For example, using app functionality on demand for a temporary amount of time could be a feature introduced soon by Apple and Google. Brands should start thinking about how they could leverage this, especially if they don’t qualify as having a use case for an “everyday app” relationship with their customers.

You can find the whole series here: