Friday, February 27, 2015

To Bundle, Or Not To Bundle

The article above is very interesting: discussing the rise of mobile apps and how their feature sets differ largely from the web.  The main observation is that the nature of the smartphone 'desktop' drives the un-bundling of a company or service's feature set, whereas online everything tends to be more bundled 'under one roof' of the same company's site. The very basic reason is that websites have an internal navigation, and company's do everything within their power to keep users from ever leaving their site. On mobile separate features are just a tap away, making it much easier to switch between different services and activities as the situation dictates.  Social applications probably provide the best examples of this unbundling.

At my company, our apps are unbundled by the different types of end user they serve.  There is one app for women who want on-demand training workouts, another for runners who want to track their distance, pace, and time using GPS, another for soccer players to plan and invite friends to pickup games on the fly, another for sneaker lovers that allows them early opportunities to purchase hot releases, and still others for many different types of athletes with different needs.  Yet our website serves up content, commerce, and news to all of these users in one place.

The article takes a turn in the end, supposing that taking a look at Chinese apps and how they differ along these lines may be a predictor of what the landscape may soon look like in the Western world. Chinese apps Baidu Maps and WeChat have found success in bundling (rather than unbundling) different services under one roof.  The best practice that's common between them is that they bundle while treating the context or use-case as priority.  For example, Baidu Maps allows users to search within its map for particular activities near them (let's say a particular type of restaurant), then provides them the functionality to make a reservation at that restaurant all within the app. It also does the same for movies.

This bundling serves a great purpose, as with the increasing number of apps out there it is growing more and more difficult to find the right app for each desired service.  Bundling solves the problem that is brought on by inadequate app store search functionality.

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