Simple apps have exploded since the booming success of Snapchat, and there is no sign of the trend slowing down.
When working in a startup, one of the most important things to determine is your minimum viable product (MVP). In other words, what is the minimum you’ll need to produce in order to start getting a feel for your target audience’s interest. From there you can begin making changes, adding features and upgrading your system in order to cater to broader demographics (becoming the next Facebook).
As I watch apps flood the App Store and Google Play every day, it is clear that the common trend is simplicity when it comes to app stardom.
People are starting to move away from complex, big picture apps and moving – quite aggressively, I might add – towards simple apps. And when I say simple, I mean simple. These apps have one basic functionality, and that’s it. This is a concept that was popularized (and economically justified) by Snapchat. One primary feature that was, for lack of a better term, dumb-proof. Anyone with a phone and a finger could figure it out. The huge success and mountains of money poured into it led to this trend quickly turning into a whirlwind, which brings us to Mobli.
The Story of ‘Yo’
Mobli – a visual media tech startup founded by Moshe Hogeg in Tel Aviv in 2010 – has done a lot (and raised a lot of money) in the world of visual search, and rich media. To date, they have raised over $85 million, including a $60M+ Round C in November of 2013 from investors including Lance Armstrong and telecommunications giant Carlos Slim. Now, when a company has built enough credibility to pull in that kind of cash from those kinds of investors, why are we talking about them in this setting?
On April 1 – or, rather, April Fool’s Day – Yo., an app developed by Or Arbel was launched on the App Store and Google Play. The app takes simplicity to a whole new level. Using Yo., you can send the word ‘yo’ to anyone, and they can send it back. The end.
“The simplest & most efficient communication tool in the world.
Yo is a single-tap zero character communication tool.
Yo is everything and anything, it all depends on you, the recipient and the time of the Yo.
Wanna say “good morning”? just Yo.
Wanna say “Baby I’m thinking about you”? – Yo.
“I’ve finished my meeting, come by my office” – Yo.
“Are you up?” – Yo.
The possibilities are endless.
We don’t want your email, Facebook, there is no search, no nothing. just Yo.
Open the app, tap Yo, that’s it.
It’s that simple. Yo.”
That is the description from the App Store.
Originally, Hogeg had asked Arbel to create an app that made getting in touch with his wife or assistant one click away. Eight hours after he started, the app was complete. Once it was launched, the app took off, and it wasn’t before a team of investors, led by Hogeg, put $1M into the product. Now, the guys behind Yo. are coming out with an app that, allegedly, makes Snapchat look complicated.
Making Simple Simpler
There are no shortage of simple photo and video messaging apps out there. There is Snapchat, TapTalk, Facebook’s Slingshot, to name a few. And now, from the folks that brought us Yo., we have Mirage. Mirage’s unique selling proposition (USP) is in its simplification of the sharing process.
Whereas users on Snapchat are ‘burdened’ by the need to go from screen to screen in order to take a picture, then select contacts, Mirage houses everything in one place. What’s more (and this actually is a nice feature) users are not pressured to download the app in order to use it. If I should send a friend a photo message on Mirage, and they do not yet have the app, they will be able to click a link and view the message on Mirage’s mobile website. It then disappears and they can decide whether or not to download the app.
Competition now is not about who can provide the most robust, overarching platform, but rather who can make simple even simpler by aggregating features and removing steps.
A little while back, I wrote a case study on how Burt’s Bees created a fairly innovative eCommerce structure whereby users would click on a link in a Facebook product ad, and they would arrive at a cart, complete with the product, ready to checkout. This helped the brand increase online sales significantly, and it was for one major reason: they nixed steps involved in the sales process.
If you can turn your online store into a world of impulse purchases by removing the steps where people can rethink their decisions, you are all but guaranteed to see a significant spike in your sales. The same holds true for the world of apps.
If you can make communication one tap away, people will flock to your product. There is a reason why people are far more likely to engage with videos or photos than they are to read an article. The same holds true for listening to podcasts over reading a white paper. Simple is good for business.
Think back to iPhone’s meteoric rise several years ago. Apple’s marketing strategy had a common theme: simplicity. A hand would appear on a white screen and show how the entire world was, literally, at your fingertip. We all know how that worked out for Apple and iPhone.
When it comes to apps, we are moving towards niche rather than universal. I mentioned this as one of the lessons I learned in Amsterdam. Simplicity appeals to the masses. Now, a minimum viable product is, essentially, a one trick pony. But one trick ponies are a good thing in this case. Considering how much exists out there in the app market and how little attention people are willing to give these products, the easier it is to use your app, the more successful it will be.
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