UAE's power of mobile apps
UAE has one of the highest penetration of mobile apps globally.
If the generation X phrase 'there is an app for that' was not already holding enough water, it is going to now.
Forbes, in a recent list predicting the upcoming trends to dominate the online market, said that 2016 may have an 'explosion of apps'.
It is a few years away to when apps will replace websites because, in essence, they both serve the same purpose but apps just do it in a more innovative and assessable way.
The general recognition of the untapped potential apps offer is pushing app-related content creation and consumption at an increasingly accelerating rate in all industries all across the urbanised world.
For example, Austrian software developers recently created two apps, Where 2 Help and Refugees Connect, intended to assist refugees in the country. The apps put new arrivals directly in touch with aid workers and other refugees, while also flagging the locations at which volunteer assistance can be of most value.
Earlier this month, Viber filed a trademark application for the phrase 'Sending money is as easy as saying hello' in the US. Although no new potential services have been confirmed, it is very viable that it might soon tap into areas of mobile payments. The automotive industry gets further revolutionised with the advent of each new driving app on Play Store and the App Store. Just an app and a dashboard mount can get you turn-by-turn directions, diagnostic information about your car, driving aids and augmented reality tools.
Additionally, Apple's new open-sourced ResearchKit framework is offering a glimpse into the changes content-driven technology will bring to the ways medical sectors operate.
As firms in various industries realise that a well-developed app can serve as a competitive advantage and a valuable asset, the coming year will be pivotal "in app adoption from a business owner's perspective", according to Forbes.
Both statistics and experts from app-making companies show that this prediction also resounds well in the UAE.
According to Global Media Insight, of the total of 9.58 million people in the UAE, around 8.81 million are active Internet users. That is 92 per cent of the population, a figure that is beaten only by Canada and is significantly higher than countries such as the US and the UK.
Of these, 52 per cent use social media apps, while 45 per cent regularly watch videos on their mobile phones. The percentage of the population who play games on their mobile phones stands at 33 per cent, and nearly 31 per cent use mobile banking services.
Enterprise Mobility, a pioneer in app-making firms in this region, said the UAE has one of the highest penetration of mobile apps in the world, with a significant proportion of the population having more than one mobile device.
"Mobile commerce in the region is growing. One trend we notice is that of small businesses adapting and offering their services online and on mobile devices," said Marcel Brouillet, partner and sales and marketing director at Enterprise Mobility.
"This is correlated to the growing entrepreneurial culture in the region. People are constantly approaching us with new ideas to work on," Brouillet added.
Food ordering apps like Zomato, grocery ordering and online shopping like Souq and MarkaVip, lifestyle and productivity related apps like Dubai Calendar, Meetup, Syncmate and Planit are gaining momentum because of how well developed and user friendly they have proven to be.
Enterprise Mobility observed that there are still many gaps in the app-related content creation sectors in the UAE.
Banks, for example, have realised that while the future is in providing the most assessable apps to customers, they also have to overcome security challenges.
Also, every government department has a mobile application but there is no single platform. "Hopefully, the government is working on this conundrum in order to offer its residents a single solution," Brouillet added.
Overall, as business owners begin to realise the online visibility a dedicated app can bring to them, app-related content creation and consumption is bound to continue progressing.
"A well-developed app will ensure that you do not miss out on the mobile audience," he said. "Too many others are doing so. Not having an app would only make you lose market share."
Rabiya Shabeeh is a Dubai-based freelance writer.
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