Super Apps reshape the mobile market


Image: BlackBerry's Torch smartphone. By RIM
BlackBerry's Torch smartphone

The rapid adoption of smartphones is proving to be a disruptive force that is changing the way people around the world manage their personal and professional lives.

That's according to Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution. He says that smartphones are changing the way people work and play by giving them mobile access to the Internet, social networking, email and other Internet applications wherever they are.

According to the Mobility 2009 research survey by World Wide Worx (October 2009), South Africa alone already has about four million mobile internet users and three million mobile email users, numbers that are growing sharply as prices of smartphones continue to drop. The rest of Africa is also seeing sharp uptake.

The result is that a growing segment of the population depends on smartphones for productivity apps, social networking, email, online shopping, banking, media playback and many other apps on the road.

The mobile phone is no longer a device simply for phone calls and text messaging. It converges a range of media, communications and productivity tools onto a single device you can take with you wherever you go, says Liebenberg.

According to Liebenberg the smartphone revolution started with the ability to manage your email and calendar on your cellphone. Subsequently, a host of powerful new enterprise and personal applications have been unleashed onto the market. Business users can access customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and other back-end systems from any place where there is a cellular signal.

Consumers can enjoy a wide range of applications from social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, through to games, calorie counters, weather applications, media tools, and so much more. Applications are more accessible and diverse than ever, thanks to the easy-to-use application stores like BlackBerry App World.

The choice of applications for popular smartphones runs into the thousands.

“ However, it is important to note that what is important is quality applications, not quantity. Research indicates that 99% of downloaded applications are discarded or ignored after just four weeks. As such, the focus needs to be on Super Apps – those applications that, once you start using them, you will wonder how you ever lived without them,” states Liebenberg.

Super Apps are integrated with other apps, giving you a seamless experience across the device. These apps are contextual and aware of things like your location and status.  The most compelling Super Apps are often always connected, but are connected in a very efficient way by leveraging push and always on capabilities - designed to deliver the data you want, when you want it.

“ Super Apps create experiences that are so seamless to use, and are so well-integrated with the core applications that they become a natural part of your daily interactions,” says Liebenberg.

A good example of a Super App is Twitter for BlackBerry smartphones. Users can see from the Twitter icon on their smartphone that there are new tweets available to view but they don’ t actually have to launch the application, they can view and send tweets right from their inbox. The last thing anyone wants to do is to have to check a dozen different applications separately to see what’ s new, so Twitter on BlackBerry becomes a Super App thanks to the seamless and efficient integration made possible by the BlackBerry platform.

The beauty of these Super Apps lies in the fact that they allow you to customise your smartphone to your own needs as a consumer and a businessperson, making your connection to the device even more personal,” says Liebenberg. “ The smartphone of the future is about having the tools to power a new level of communication, collaboration and integration that will transform the way we work and live.  It will empower us by making us more connected and engaged in every aspect of what we do.”



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