Information Technology

App development trends of 2017: what businesses need to know

By Nicole Reddie, Apps4U
Information Technology
Published: 15 August 2017

Mobile app development is an exciting industry. It’s one that is constantly moving and evolving. Every year the market grows and, by 2020, it is set to be worth just shy of $200 billion. That’s a rise of 270% from 2015.

But such movement presents a challenge for business owners, entrepreneurs and CIOs. How, when you’re managing so many other aspects of business, can you expect to maintain an informed stance on mobile apps, their development and their role within business?

The key is selectivity. Don’t attempt to monitor every move being made in the industry, because changes are being made every day. Instead, watch for the biggest and most important trends that will likely have an impact on how your business operates. In 2017, these are the trends you should be aware of:

Android is fighting back against Apple
If you develop an app, you go for Apple’s iOS store first and then Android later, if budget and resources permit. That has been the general rule of thumb in the app development world since the Google Play Store launched in 2012.

Android has long since dominated the market in terms of sheer user volume; 85% of the smartphone market is on Android, as opposed to 11% on Apple. Yet, despite the figures, Apple apps have previously been immensely profitable compared to their Google Play Store cousins — roughly 500% more profitable, in fact.

However, 2017 has seen a significant shift in the value of Android apps to businesses.

This year, revenue from the Android app market is expected to surpass Apple and claim dominance in the market. iOS apps as an individual entity continue to be more profitable than their Android counterparts, but that profit margin has been narrowing for some time. In 2017, businesses will be seeing revenue from Android apps closing in on their profits from iOS.

Android is fast becoming a much more viable contender in the battle for app store supremacy. Businesses should no longer be considering it as a secondary platform and instead value it as a potential starting point for app development.

SME app development is increasing dramatically
In 2016, business owners were very much lagging behind in the digital age. Nearly 50% of SMEs didn’t have a website and only 42% had an app. But SMEs cannot stay in the dark forever, and business owners are starting to pay more attention to the benefits of bringing their companies into the 21st century.

By the end of 2017, it is predicted that nearly 70% of SMEs will have developed a mobile app for their business. Given the benefits for sales, marketing and consumer engagement, the rise is seen as a way for many SMEs to remain competitive and relevant in the modern world.

This presents a problem for businesses not currently considering a mobile app, however. As the trend of small business app development continues, those 30% of companies that fail to match the market’s evolution will find themselves on the back foot.

App development costs are decreasing
Those who have looked into the costs of small business app development in the past may be surprised to hear so many SMEs are launching apps in 2017. The fact is, though, that the rise is simply part of another trend sweeping the app development market.

App development costs are falling, making the technology more affordable and more accessible to wider markets — another contributing factor to the expansive growth expected over the coming years.

While businesses seeking to explore app development will still find high-priced quotes from premium-rate developers, those working on a limited budget are seeing more and more opportunities to create an app in 2017.

The decreasing costs of some app development platforms — and the subsequent increase in SME interest — can be attributed to time. As the technology behind apps ages, it becomes cheaper to buy, more accessible to new developers and, therefore, more freely available for those without mountains of capital.

To phrase it bluntly: the times of being priced out of the app market are over.

Augmented and virtual reality is no longer a gimmick
As with all tech trends, some launch with a certain novelty around them. Augmented and virtual realities certainly fit into this category. The stuff of sci-fi classics, when the modern versions of the innovation hit mobiles in 2014, developers clamoured to push out apps that used the technology.

The result was an array of novelty apps with limited lifespan and functionality. Soon, the masses became disinterested in augmented realities and VR. They faded into obscurity, like 3D TVs and fidget spinners. However, both realities are making a comeback in the mobile app world, no longer as novelty act, but instead based on sturdy, practical foundations.

AR and VR have opened businesses up to new avenues of product marketing. Instead of mere images, functionality can be developed within apps to allow for immersive product experiences. Through augmented reality, customers can view products in their own space. For example, they can see how furniture fits into a room or let you “try on clothes” at home. Virtual realities have also begun to be implemented in areas like real estate and design, where customers can enter virtual environments and experience locations otherwise unavailable to them.

The strong implications of modified realities for marketing and sales means that the technology is seeing an increasing use in 2017. Businesses in sectors that could benefit from VR or AR functionality integration in their apps should be seriously considering the technology moving into the latter half of the year.

Nicole Reddie, of app development company Apps4U, is an expert in everything related to the app industry.