If 2008 was the year of "We need to be on Facebook.", and 2009 was "Oooh, what about Twitter?", then 2010 is likely to add a third tired and tactical digital mandatory..."We need an app!". And, between all the iPad buzz and articles like this in the New York Times, the incessant chatter already begun.
Not that there's anything wrong with apps. After all, we're all going to have apps for phones and mobile devices, apps for normal computers, apps for TVs, and (soon enough) apps for everything from bedside clocks to fridges.
But as marketers we just need to remember one thing...apps are for life. Not 'for life' as in forever (although one sign of a successful app is that its use-by date might stretch beyond its first week of novelty). No, when I say 'for life' I mean for living...for real life...for offering some utility or enhancement to how we want to live our real lives.
A good app changes how we do stuff for the better, or helps us do stuff we previously couldn't (but always wanted to). A pointless app encourages us to do something we never wanted to do just because we can. Needless to say, 99 per cent of marketing-driven apps fall into the latter category. Which means that most app marketing in 2010 will be as pointless and annoying as the Facebook and Twitter marketing of 2008 and 2009.
Used well, apps are brand experiences. Enhancing ones. Valuable ones. Insightful ones. Used badly, they're more clutter. Hmm...