How often do we hear a term similar to “there is an app for that?” No one can deny the rise in “apps culture.” It seems like everywhere we look people are using some sort of app for their phone or tablet. Apps culture has tentacles that reach out much further than a person can realize without investigating. Apps have made it so that people’s mobile devices have become essential parts of their lives, maybe too essential. This is something that requires further attention since it is clear that the usage of apps is only going to increase.
As more people own smart-phones, more people will be app users (the reason most people purchase the smart-phone) and there will be more demand for apps. According to the Nielsen Company, in 2009 24% of adults in the US use apps, and a staggering 38% of teens. This is an increase in teens from 2008 in which 26% of teens were app users (Perez). Teens being the largest and most sought after demographic could mean big dollars in advertising in apps and for the “cool hunting” industry.
Tablets and smart-phones app capabilities allow people to carry less devices, or lighter weight on their persons. Music downloading and sharing apps are common and eliminate the need for additional mp3 players. E-book or reader apps are very popular and physical books are becoming less common. With social networking apps, you can take and post pictures to sites like Facebook.com instantly from your smart-phone or tablet, no additional camera required.
The social impact of apps and the “apps culture” is huge. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all fed into our whole “now now now” way of trying to live. With features such as “check-ins”, “tags”, “status updates”, and the ability to instantly upload photos and video are going to make apps very popular, but at what cost? Relationships can definitely be affected by apps. Most people can remember an argument that was the result of some post or tag. Some social networking sites are geared at meeting a love interest or spouse. Some use social networking apps for a one-night stand that will even tell the user the proximity of others looking for fun also.
YouTube had made people instantly famous whether the fame was sought after or not. Many people have been humiliated from video postings as we have seen depicted in many movies. Society must remember that these humiliations are reality for others that carry consequences. Apps also allow you to centralize so much of your life, and to have instant control of much more than ever before. When does this ability to control so many details pass the point of healthy anal-retentiveness, and into obsessive compulsiveness? Another thing to consider is that all this time spent on apps while mobile is decreasing the amount of physical social interactions people could have, if their full attention was not on a device.
App development has become quite the industry itself. The amount of app developers is growing and now there are companies that will help people develop their own apps. The larger the use of an app, the more money it can make from its advertising and merchandising. Even though app developers are facing the same pirating issue the music industry is, because it is not hard to download a paid app from the internet for free, the number of developers is rapidly increasing. This increase could be because if an app is popular to the degree of the game Angry Birds, the merchandising and advertising dollars can be substantial. Banner ads have a presence in most apps today and advertisers can reach large demographic through placement on popular apps.
Wireless carriers, restaurants, hotels, airlines, and basically any business in the service industry can be affected by apps. Wireless carriers have increased profits, but have to now deal with customer complaints for non-working apps or billing since it is usually done 3rd party. Thanks to the Yelp app businesses like restaurants and stores have to be weary of upsetting a “yelper” because of the effects of negative reviews, even if the customer is being unfair. Hotels have to worry about bad reviews and constantly changing travel arrangements/reservations from their smart-phones with apps like Priceline’s.
With the expansive reach “apps culture” growing exponentially, we must think of the ramifications this has on our culture. Apps are how people find out what is happening around the world so fast. Even politicians are using apps for Twitter, and have large followings. As technology progresses, so will the power and our enslavement to our smart-phones and apps. “Apps culture” is revolutionizing the way we live life and how fast we receive information. We must try to realize what that means to society and our culture.