Are Mobile Apps The Most Significant Innovation Since The Millennium?

July 31, 2023  |  Mark Hillary
The significance of phone apps is usually unappreciated.

Yes, they are a useful way to use services and interact with companies on your mobile device, but have you ever really thought about just how groundbreaking it was to allow anyone to code software that runs on your phone?

Before the Apple iPhone launched in 2007 the only apps on phones were the ones that manufacturers provided. Who can forget playing Snake on a Nokia?

Even the first iPhone didn’t change this. Steve Jobs really didn’t want developers from outside Apple to be coding anything that would define the experience of using the phone. He eventually saw the value of a wide global community of app developers and launched the App Store in 2008. Google responded a few months later with their Android Market, which eventually became Google Play.

Since that time it has been possible for any company to code a solution for Android or IoS and then to release it on the store platforms and potentially reach millions of users.

If I take a look right now at my phone and consider the most-used apps I’d say they are WhatsApp messaging, various social media networks, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, various news apps, Kindle books, Audible audio books, and my bank.

Just this quick overview reads like a sea change of so many industries. Look at banking for example. A new bank doesn’t need a national network of branches, they can build all their account management services into an app and then make it available to be downloaded.

The Kindle app connects me to any book available on Amazon so I always have something good to read. WhatsApp allows messages, photo and video sharing, and live calls all via the Internet, rather than relying on my phone network.

News, banking, music, publishing, and telecoms. All these industries have been enormously disrupted by the innovation that is possible with apps.

The app revolution has also allowed companies all over the world to successfully launch products that would have been impossible in the traditional days of software distribution. Mostly the end users are not even aware where their favorite apps originate. Angry Birds is originally from Finland, Skype from Estonia, Telegram from Russia, Rappi from Colombia… apps are from across the entire world now.

Apps today are taken for granted. People open a social media app or listen to podcasts, they send a photo to Instagram or listen to music on Spotify. It just happens. However, if you stop and think about the opportunity this one technology innovation created for people all over the world and for consumers then it is quite staggering.

Which modern company can function without offering their customers services via an app? My phone company lets me check my account – same with my bank. I can use WhatsApp to book a haircut or a hotel. I can send payment to the kennel that cares for my dogs direct from a payment app.

None of this infrastructure existed in 2007.

Today, if you have a great idea for a new service you can code the app and launch it in weeks – a new global service immediately available. Of course, you then need to make people aware of the service, but getting it out there is simple.

When the history of the twenty-first century is written I think there will be more to say about 2008 than just the great financial crash. It’s the year when the world truly changed.


IBA Group offers flexible app development for both Android and IoS and also cross-platform. For more information please click here.

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