Smartphone users drowning under ‘app overload’

David Willis, an analyst at research firm Gartner, addressing the growing issue of mobility in the workplace in Cape Town. (Gareth van Zyl / Fin24)
David Willis, an analyst at research firm Gartner, addressing the growing issue of mobility in the workplace in Cape Town. (Gareth van Zyl / Fin24)

Cape Town - Abandonment rates for smartphone apps are surging as users simply have too much choice, says an analyst from technology research firm Gartner.

Speaking to media along the sidelines of the Gartner Symposium taking place in Cape Town on Tuesday, analyst David Willis explained this “compound problem”.

Data from earlier this year said that Android users have access to 2.2 million apps while Apple's App Store users have 2 million available apps.

The likes of telecoms companies have jumped on the app revolution bandwagon to allow their customers to perform functions such as paying their phone bills.

But these companies, in turn, have each created multiple apps for customers, thereby contributing to the over-saturation of the apps landscape.

"There are very high abandonment rates for apps, they [users] try them out for a while after they download them but it's only a small percentage that they actually continue to use on a daily basis,” said Willis.

"It's a compounded problem many brands have multiple apps that you can find in the app store.

"It's just too much. So, apps have sort of, because of the fragmentation ... confused people,” he said.

READ: Replying to after-hours emails? Ask your boss for a policy

Post-app era

Amid this ‘app overload’, the advent of the post-app era is upon us, said Willis.

Growing adoption of artificial intelligence means that virtual agents or virtual personal assistants are set to help smartphone users make the most of apps without the clutter.

“Instead of finding the app to pay my telecom bill, I would just like to talk to my phone and say: 'It's time to pay my telephone bill' and let the phone figure out what the best app is,” said Willis.

"So the functionality hasn't changed, but the idea of having dozens of apps sitting on my phone,” he added.

Conversational apps are a growing part of the smartphone future, says a Gartner analyst.

Conversational interfaces with smartphones, then, are forecast to become more widespread in the coming years.

Already, technologies such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s recently launched smart messaging app Allo, and Amazon Echo enable “the idea of just being able to talk to a device and let it figure out”, said Willis.

"These systems run on their own, based on what data they collect, and they also produce results that we trust,” he said.

"In other words, if I tell my device, order me a pizza, it knows what type of pizza I like and which vendor I like,” he explained.

The rise of artificial intelligence is one of the major takeaways from this year’s Gartner Symposium, which has taken place in Cape Town from September 26-28.

On Monday, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president of technology research firm Gartner, said that artificial intelligence is one of five key platforms to watch in the digital world.

READ: 5 ways that digital is changing the workplace

"Artificial intelligence and machine learning moves at the speed of data, not at the speed of code releases,” Sondergaard said.

"New commercial artificial intelligence systems will proliferate.

"We will employ new people to train these systems, not just to code them,” Sondergaard added.

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