April 6, 2017

Categorizing Popular Mobile Applications:
5 Ideas to Consider in the Ideation Process


We are constantly reminded about the immense market of mobile applications. The average smartphone user has six to ten mobile apps installed on his/her device. In a world shaped by apps, some see an opportunity of a lifetime: build the next (insert the trendiest app). However, how does one go about making the next smash hit so they can retire early? Before you even type a line of code, you need an idea. In this post, I will identify what I think are the five categories that every popular app can be placed into. Understanding these categories can help you start your brainstorming process for the next top chart mobile application.

5 Categories For Popular Mobile Application

Any popular mobile application you can think of can be categorized in one of these five categories:


 

1. Need – Applications that solve a problem.

Example: Uber.

Many people considered getting a taxi ride a hassle. Uber has solved that problem by making getting a cab so much easier.

 


 

2. Parody – Applications that have nearly identical function to already popular apps but vary in appearance or feel.

Example: Music Players.

Most music player apps have the same functionality; however, the more successful apps (~10 million downloads) have the better user interface.

 


 

3. Social – Applications that connect people or ideas.

Example: Snapchat.

Allows people to share photos/videos with a quick and direct medium. This is the most obvious category; yet, there is always room for people to share information in new and fundamental ways.

 


 

4. Easy Information – Applications that provide information easily to the user.

Example: Google Translate.

Rather than searching online for each translation, Google Translate provides one application that can translate anything in any language. In addition, Google Translate takes providing information to a whole new level by incorporating technology such as Optical Character Recognition to translate text from a camera feed, eliminating the need for the user to type out all the text for translation.

 


 

5. Boosting User’s Confidence – Applications that are perceived by the user to be benefitting them significantly.

Example: Duolingo.

Duolingo is an incredibly well intentioned application – allowing users to learn any language for free. One problem with Duolingo is that there are some users who do not go on the app frequently. These users will have difficulty learning the new language because learning a language is a task that requires frequent effort. So why do these users download the app anyway? These users most likely downloaded the app thinking that they could learn a new language; however, they never followed through. Even when they install the app and not use it, many will still keep it installed because they hope that they can learn some other time. The main characteristic is that these apps offer significant benefits and the average user buys into these big promises by downloading the app. In most cases, the app delivers; however, it is up to the user to actually take advantage of them.

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