Mobile apps have completely transformed everyday life. From handling finances to ordering lunch, we rely on apps to get us through the day.
When the first iPhone was released in 2007, apps were mostly simple and utilitarian in nature. What happened in the decade or so since that first fateful Apple announcement? How did apps become such an essential part of modern day society?
Some people credit Uber with kick starting the app revolution. And it’s true that Uber was one of the first successful mobile applications that made investors and industry leaders recognize that you could completely disrupt an industry with a really useful app. The success of Uber and other early apps also proved that people were not only ready to use mobile devices to accomplish a wide range of tasks, they actually preferred mobile to other channels.
It’s hard to think of any industry that mobile hasn’t transformed in one way or another. But some fields have seen more dramatic changes than others. Below, we’ve put together a list of 5 industries that mobile has completely revolutionized. Let’s take a look:
1. Mobile healthcare apps (mHealth)
In 2016, 70% of surveyed doctors used mobile devices to manage patient data (up from 8% in 2013) (source)
15% of adults aged 18 to 29 had health apps installed on their mobile phones in 2018 (source)
How mobile apps have transformed the healthcare industry:
Connectivity: Apps make it infinitely easier for patients and providers to stay connected. Apps allow for seamless appointment scheduling and communication —meaning important visits aren’t missed and ailments don’t go untreated.
Accessibility: Apps provide a bridge to healthcare that rural and underserved communities once lacked. For many, getting to the doctor is a logistical and financial struggle. Thanks to new technologies, it’s possible to have virtual appointments where doctors can assess and treat many ailments and mental health issues remotely.
Better monitoring: Fitness apps make people much more aware of the state of their overall health—helping them stay healthy and fend of disease in the first place. Meanwhile, patient portal apps allow people to view test results they might never otherwise see. Giving people a complete picture of their health promotes overall wellness and helps shed light on potential health problems much sooner.
2. Real estate mobile apps
81% of older millennials, 80% of younger millennials and 78% of generation X-ers found their home on a mobile device (source)
46% of real estate firms say keeping up with technological changes is among their biggest concerns over the next 2 years (source)
How mobile apps have transformed the real estate industry:
Empowering buyers: Realtors used to have all the control with real estate transactions. But now, apps have put buyers in the driver seat. Buyers can do their own research to understand the market and their options. They also no longer have to wait for realtors to send them listings and risk missing out on their dream home in the process.
Transparency: Buyers and sellers have fuller line of sight into housing market trends and transactions so that they’re not blindsided by what they might face.
Real-time results: Real estate apps like Redfin and Zillow pull from the MLS (Multiple Listings Service) feed and notify buyers immediately about any new listings within their defined parameters so they don’t miss out on listings of interest.
3. Finance and banking mobile apps (fintech)
Mobile banking apps are among the top 3 most-used apps on American smartphones (source)
91% of mobile banking users prefer using an app to going to the bank (source)
Globally, fintech companies acquired $111.8 billion in investments in 2018 (source)
How mobile apps have transformed the finance industry:
Mobile payments: By 2023, mobile payments are predicted to become the second most common payment method after debit cards. You can make the argument that people have their smartphone on them more than any other item, so it makes sense that it would eventually come to act as a form of currency.
Convenient transactions: Who has time to go to the bank these days? Being able to handle baking online—everything from cashing a check to transferring funds between accounts—has completely changed the game. Another game-changer? The ability to pay your friends and family on the spot with apps like Venmo.
Virtual brokers: It used to be you had to hire a fancy stock broker to help you invest your money in the market. But thanks to mobile investment apps, you can now smartly invest on your own. This shift is empowering people to take charge of their own future without the wolf of Wall Street.
4. SaaS mobile apps
Revenue from corporate mobile SaaS is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2021 (source)
The use of mobile apps by companies grew 98% in 2018 (source)
30% of millennials say that Gmail is the most essential app in their phone (source)
How mobile apps have transformed the SaaS industry:
Virtual offices: Remote work has become increasingly more popular over the past decade thanks to applications that allow employees to get work done anywhere, anytime. Mobile apps play a central role in this accessibility, keeping employees connected regardless of where they may be.
Hyper-connectivity: Push notifications on SaaS mobile apps make sure employees don’t miss out on time-sensitive information. And while there’s a lot to be said for the argument that push notifications are disruptive and don’t allow a person to disconnect from work, the opposite can also be true: For some folks, push notifications allow them to go about their day-to-day worrying about missing out on an important Slack or email they’ve waiting for.
5. Ecommerce mobile apps (mcommerce)
Sales via mobile broke records on both Black Friday (US$ 2.9B) and Cyber Monday (US$ 3.1B) in 2019 (source)
35% of millennials say that Amazon is the most essential app on their phone (source)
In 2018, mobile sales accounted for nearly 40% of all retail ecommerce sales in the US (source)
How apps have transformed the ecommerce industry:
Personalized experiences: The modern consumer demands personalized experiences, and this is exactly what ecommerce apps grant them. Consumers increasingly turn to apps to purchase because they’re incredibly convenient—apps remember user preferences and information, which makes checkout a breeze. And apps are able to serve up tailored recommendations based on past behavior, making the shopping experience more relevant with each purchase.
Enhanced in-store experiences: Mobile apps aren’t just transforming ecommerce purchases—they can also help make in-store shopping better. Many retail stores from Home Depot to Whole Foods use apps to bridge the physical and digital worlds to help customers easily locate products and have a seamless in-store checkout.
Social selling: Another compelling stat for you to consider—US marketers spend 69% of their influencer budgets on Instagram (source). Instagram has become a hub that helps new ecommerce companies to burst into relevance and established brands to stay top of mind through hyper-targeted ads and influencer marketing.
Mobile apps succeed with better UX
At the end of the day, there really isn’t a whole lot of mystery around why people prefer mobile. The fact is, the user experience on mobile is unmatched. It’s streamlined, simplified, and personalized. Mobile apps can help users quickly complete a task or offer an in-depth, customized content experience, depending on the needs of the user. And mobile is convenient—it lets users stay connected regardless of where they are in the world, boosting personal and professional productivity.
And the constraints that come from designing for a smaller screen can actually increase creativity as mobile app designers look for ways to provide simplified but powerful experiences. Of course, the success of any app depends on how well it fares in the cutthroat world of the app stores—a fact that puts users’ needs front-and-center throughout the development and design process.
TL;DR: The mobile transformation is just beginning. Whether your company is looking to disrupt an industry or just ensure your mobile strategy is up to snuff, be sure to check back on the Appcues Blog for more mobile UX resources.
Eric heads up Marketing at Appcues. When he isn't helping companies become more product-led, he’s likely to be found keeping up with his wife and 2 children, exploring the White Mountains with his dog Barley, or fermenting things at home.