How to Prepare for the App-iest Day of the Year

DECEMBER 7, 2015 • Blog Post • By Todd Wasserman, HPE Matter Contributor

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • With so many new devices under the tree, Christmas has become the biggest day of the year for app downloads and a high-pressure situation for developers
  • HPE Mobility Technologist James Cooper describes four tips for developers to stay ahead of the holiday rush

An HPE mobility technologist shares advice for developers who face a flood of app downloads by eager consumers on Christmas Day

There are lots of reasons for cheer on Christmas day, but for the past few years, app developers are focused on just one—it is traditionally the biggest day of the year for app downloads.

On Christmas Day 2014, the app download volume was 2.5 times the number of installs compared to an average day during the first three weeks of December, according to researcher Flurry. The impetus for this is obvious: Consumers are getting new devices under the tree and are looking to quickly add functionality with new apps.

This trend isn't only confined to consumer apps—businesses have also seen a huge boost in app downloads during the holidays, thanks to the growth of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend over the past few years. As the idea of a “work phone” becomes more antiquated, consumers with new devices are downloading apps that they plan to use when they return to the office. For developers, this is a high-pressure situation in which their apps get just one opportunity to become widely adopted. 

James Cooper, chief technologist, mobility and workplace global practice at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), offered the following advice to developers who want to make sure Christmas is a happy day for all:

1.    Form a good relationship with the big device makers

It's important to have a good sense of what the hot gadget of the holiday season is going to be. If you have a good relationship with Android and Windows device makers, then you have a better idea of what sorts of hardware is in the pipeline. Otherwise, you will have to learn about them via the Black Friday advertisements like everyone else. In that case, says Cooper: “There are about 30 days to react from Thanksgiving to Christmas.”

That time frame is drastically reduced when you consider the fact that the App Store and Google Play need time to review the app after it is submitted. "Then you're down to about 10 days of being able to react and then get in line to have your application blessed, certified and published," Cooper added. "That becomes a really big challenge for developers."

2.    Make sure it works

Even if you only have a short time to make your app available, do your best to ensure that it's fully functional. App downloads are high-pressure situations since you don't get a second chance. "I can't even think of a time that I called someone to get support for an application on my phone," Cooper says.

The risk is compounded on Christmas because if people have a bad experience with your app, they're likely to give it a bad review and disparage it on social media. Even for B2B apps, that negative experience can be a death sentence. 

3.    Keep it simple

One way to avoid a disaster on Christmas is to rigorously test your app. However, before you do that, Cooper advises you take a step back and make sure that your app is as simple and intuitive as possible. He notes that before the iPhone's introduction in 2007, applications were designed for notebooks, desktops and mainframes, which assumed lots of complexity. Post-iPhone, "instead of having a thousand different menu items, we've zeroed in on the ones that are most significant," he says.

To achieve the highest level of user-friendliness, Cooper says it's important to hire people who understand psychology and the way people interact with information: "The app that allows me to get to the data the quickest with the fewest clicks on the screen is the one that's going to win."

  • Apps are going to progress to the point where users can control them with eye motions.

4.    Watch out for the next evolution

Cooper says whether it's this Christmas or the 2017 holiday season, at some point apps are going to progress to the point where users can control them with eye motions or possibly even their thoughts. That sounds like science fiction, but Cooper points out that a new wave of prosthetics are controlled by the brain's signals. "I'm not going to say it's going to happen en masse this year," he says, but points out that technologies like Microsoft's HoloLens and the next generation of Google Glass could drive the market further in that direction.

App developers should be of two minds about the future. Looking ahead over the next few years, phones and tablets will likely be joined by other mobile devices that require their own unique user experiences. In the short term, though, there are more immediate demands that will give developers a lot of reasons to be obsessively counting the days until Christmas.

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