New year, new toys. Consumer electronics, that is. I’m just getting back and reflecting onÂ CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the largest tech geek kickoff of the year.
This year I got the chance to see the new consumer electronics and tech industry trends from three lenses: that of a journalist, an entrepreneur, and a marketer working with EachScape, anÂ application creation and management platform.
This year'sÂ gadgets and exhibitsÂ confirmed the expansion ofÂ the tech market as a whole. This results in large opportunities in the application space, which is now trending well beyond smartphones and tablets.Â TheÂ result? The app landscape is becoming increasinglyÂ complicatedÂ to navigate.
What is "App"lification?
One of this year'sÂ pre-showÂ trend predictions fromÂ ShawnÂ DuBravac, research director for the Consumer Electronics Association, was thatÂ we're moving from "Amplification" to "App"lification.Â Amplification of a company or brand's message used to be a top KPI (key performance indicator) in the digital space. Â Now,Â contentÂ creators have the ability to use apps on a number of different screens in their audience's life to create a robust and interactive user experience to share their story.Â InÂ other words, "app"lificationÂ closes the gaps thatÂ historically have fallen between content creators and hardware or product manufacturers, resulting in a frictionless experience that seamlessly integrates with everyday life beyond just mobile phones.
EmergingÂ App Screens
We are seeingÂ theÂ three-screenÂ trifectaÂ of the pre-tablet era disappear with moreÂ productsÂ being app-enabled than ever before. Â This year,Â CES showcased everything from cars to toys to traditional household consumer electronicsÂ like refrigerators sporting screen interfaces with built-in apps. Â With more screens becoming part of the daily user experience,Â there areÂ an increasing number ofÂ creativeÂ solutions for entrepreneurs to consider for new productsÂ or extensions of existing products.
SoÂ what does this mean forÂ entrepreneurs?
Fragmentation. Whether you're creating an app that is your product and core business or you're using an app to share content and market your business, you have multiple screens to take into consideration in your mobile and digital planning. You may decide that you need to have an application for every screen or that your target audience is primarily on one or two of the available screens.
“Both on the business and technology front, fragmentation and mobile are two sidesÂ of the same coin. Fragmentation has many dimensions – the code (iOS, Android, HTML5 etc.), the type of screen (phone, tablet, TV), and the content format (video, photo, etc.).Â Â AtÂ EachScapeÂ we are trying to help our clientsÂ solve the fragmentation problem by allowing them to create and manage across the entire landscape,”Â explainedÂ LudoÂ Collin, co-founder & CEO ofÂ EachScape.
To minimize fragmentation,Â EachScapeÂ lets youÂ create, customize and/or manageÂ apps across multiple platforms. Â As a marketer and entrepreneur, I found their solution to fragmentation issues to be the gem of their product.Â EachScape'sÂ platform allows content producersÂ with or withoutÂ development skillsÂ to create highly customized applications that can be configured for the requirements of multiple screens, acrossÂ iOS,Â Android, connected TV andÂ HTML5.
Browser Preference and HTML5 Apps
Another emerging trend in the app space that assists with the fragmentation issue is the use of an HTML5 app, asÂ Google opted to doÂ with their iPhone app. They created an iPhone app that has limitedÂ functionality but gives the user access to many of their other products (Calendar, Docs, etc.) in their ownÂ HTML5 apps. In Google’s case, their iOSÂ app allows users to have all their products in one place and thenÂ click a link out to the appropriate HTML5 app.Â In addition toÂ iOSÂ and Android users, we also see some users that stillÂ prefer using web browsers on blackberries andÂ connected TVs.Â Apple's operating system upgradeÂ particularly encourages thisÂ type of user behavior by allowing you to save a web browser as a badge to your home screen.
The Key Takeaways
Expect to see more industry-wide collaboration and focus on the user interface in 2012.Â "App"lificationÂ is reducing barriers between content creators and manufacturers, creating a wealth of opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to get into or expand their presence in the app space.