What we can learn from the top 10 apps of all time

 In Blog, Communication, Company News

Have you ever watched a dog show? Me either, but I have watched Best in Show, and I kinda hope that is what the dog show world is really like. That would be an interesting world!
If you haven’t seen this mockumentary, it’s the story of several families getting ready for and competing in the world’s most prestigious dog show. These people are ALL-IN for making their dog the “best in show’. No matter what industry you are in, there seems to be this race to be the best in show. It’s not a bad thing to push towards being better, and at aware3 we are constantly looking for ways to make improvements to the mobile platforms that we offer to churches. So let’s take a look at the top 10 apps of all time and see what we can learn from them:

#10 – Uber

Uber came on the scene with a clear purpose. They married the concepts of simplicity with real needs for app users, and the desire for people to make some extra money on their own terms. I have used Uber a lot and have never had a bad experience. They knew that mobile was the new frontier for enterprise and they met real needs for consumers more cheaply than existing options. Using your geolocation tools n your phone, you can call a driver to you when you need it, get to where you need to go, be billed a fair rate with no need to tip. This was disruptive to existing driver services, but provided real value to users.

#9 – Youtube

With the advent of webcams, and easily accessible digital video tools, everyone can be a video producer, at least on Youtube. Lots of stuff on Youtube is absolute garbage, but there is lots of informative, entertaining and compelling content there as well. Youtube gave the power to the people, and we loved it! It has been a place for people to get discovered. Artists, entertainers, and people with interesting ideas have used this platform to crowdfund (in a sense) their ideas and get noticed by others. In essence, Youtube is kinda like the American Idol tryouts: You have to wade through a lot of earsplitting nonsense, but if you dig you can find some amazing talents. And like American Idol, even the bad stuff sometimes is a hit: Remember William Hung?

#8 –  Vine

I’ll confess, I don’t use Vine. But lots of people do! Vine has over 40 million users and the reason people love it is that it is bite size chunks of life. For better or worse, we want to share with people what’s happening in our lives. These 6-second slices of life allow people to step into a moment of time and stretch it on forever with the help of infinite looping. This allows people to show what they want to show (only the best right?), and before you say that people don’t want to see 6 seconds of your dog acting a fool on the family trampoline, I will remind you that they have 40 million users.

#7 – Wechat

Of all the apps on this list, this is the one most people haven’t heard of. Wechat is China’s most successful app. It is a combination of Facebook, whatsapp, and Skype. This easy to use tool has been successful because it knew its audience better than anyone else. It just happens that their target audience makes up 20% of the world’s population as well. In an environment with lots of censorship, they provided an easy and protected way to communicate and then built features incrementally. No wonder they have, according to some estimates, over 1 Billion accounts

#6 – Find My iPhone

I’m sure that I’m the only one that has left my iPhone or iPad somewhere and then freaked out looking for it. As a side note, why does this always happen when I am running late for an appointment?? This app merges functional design with a significant, tangible need. If I leave the house without my phone, I turn around. If I lose my phone, I feel like I am missing a limb. Find My iPhone has saved my sanity more than once, and I think that is why it has taken root.

#5 – Angry Birds

I’ve heard it said that Angry Birds owes its success to people being kinda bored and somewhat susceptible to addictions. There may be some truth to that. I think an interesting scientific study would be one that evaluates what percentage of time spent playing Angry Birds is done in the bathroom. When this game first came out, people would take any few seconds they had available and play a few levels. The great trick was that it was contagious.  Engaging others in helping you unlock levels was habitual, causing you to log back in again and again, and had no end in sight as they constantly added new levels. It currently has 495 levels, in case you were feeling proud of being on level 214.

#4 – Twitter

People have historically loved to mock Twitter. Who cares that you went to the store today and bought cereal? Well, twitter was largely credited with influencing the Arab Spring that led to overturning governments throughout the world. So don’t downplay its impact. Much like Vine, twitter is bite sized. They have made a business based on the concept of less is more.  Forcing people to say what they want to share with few words has helped people clarify and reduce the word count, in some cases, increasing the quality of the content. Plus, there have been some wonderful twitter fights to watch between politicians and celebrities. Bite sized can be entertaining for sure.

#3 – Facebook

King of all social networks has historically been Facebook. One of the largest impacts that they have had on society is to integrate part of our lives that had previously been separate.  Your co-workers, church friends, non-christian friends, and even your grandma are now all friends of yours on Facebook. Doing research into younger segments of the workforce, you can see the influence of the integrated worldview. A few facts about millennials show that they have a never before seen expectation that co-workers be ‘like family’, and there is even a significant segment that won’t accept a job if Facebooking during the day is prohibited.

#2 – Google Maps

What did we do before google maps? Mapping programs are everywhere now. Look for an apartment on airbnb and you have a map. Search for a business and a map comes up. If you aren’t sure of the impact, I bet the people who owned TomTom could tell you. Google Maps killed an entire industry because they figured out how to give it away for free. Real value at no cost kills real value at a one-time cost, plus the recurring cost of updated maps.

#1 – Instagram

And the big winner is Instagram. It was the perfect integration of people’s desire to be an artist and the provision of the great iPhone camera that was now in people’s hands. Instagram wouldn’t exist without the phone camera. A recent iPhone commercial takes this concept to a satirical level. The message is that you can photo or video even the most mundane thing and everyone you know will be blown away (that’s what Instagram filters are for).

Each of these apps have identified some unique human need or urge and met that need with real value. At aware3 we believe that people are created with a unique need for connection and meaning. By building your church’s custom-branded app, we hope to help you make that connection. If you don’t have a mobile experience for your church, connect with us to find out how it can take your ministry to the next phase.