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Long before Web-era gurus popularized the notion of an ‘Attention Economy,’ there was Ben Franklin telling us that time = money.

So it’s easy to understand why market researcher Flurry’s report on Monday that U.S. consumers now spend more time on mobile apps than they do on the Web, created, well, a flurry of interest.

If we accept Flurry’s methodology (taking its own primary research  and comparing them with figures from comScore and Alexa), this report  appears even more significant because the data compares mobile apps  versus the time users spend using the Web and Facebook on both mobile devices as well as desktop and laptop PCs. Not PC-based Web usage only, as TechCrunch reported, nor mobile Web usage only, as GigaOm wrote.

Flurry showed only a narrow lead for apps over web. But another researcher Nielsen said Tuesday that apps have a commanding lead of 56% of smartphone usage, followed by e-mail/messaging at 19%, phone (voice) at 15% and web browsing coming in dead last at only 9%.

While these are significant data points on the consumer side, I think it’s too early to infer much on the enterprise side. Yet, pundits gonna pundit, so here’s my attempt to anticipate and shootdown three of their conclusions:

1) “Of course, native apps will also rule over HTML 5-based web apps in the enterprise.”

Let’s look at Flurry’s breakdown on what apps we are using:

86% of consumer time was spent on three activities – gaming, social networking, and entertainment – that have little or no relation to work (arguably, neither does news for most workers). So that’s flaw #1.

Flaw # 2 is the fact that for these apps, but especially gaming and social networking, a rich interface and non-connected experience  are key. It’s harder to deliver that via the Web today. But HTML 5 will  quickly improve the Web app experience on both counts.

Flaw #3 in the argument that apps smash Web is this: Attention Economics works in reverse in the enterprise.  The longer you play a game or interact with Facebook, the more  attention you give it, and the more value you generate to the makers of  those app makers.

In the case of the enterprise, the length of time it takes you to  complete a task is often inversely correlated to its value to the  enterprise. So the faster you can approve an exception order or check on the status of workflow,  the greater the ROI. Mobilizing these tasks, in many cases, will be  easier and more convenient by building a Web-based app, or ‘hybrid’ app  as we at Sybase/SAP like to call it, than building a full-fledged  standalone app.

2) “As enterprises move towards apps, they’ll also move towards consumer app stores.”

I  can’t imagine an enterprise CIO willingly putting an internal app up on  a public marketplace for anyone, including competitors to gawk at or  download. Nor would they be happy about the lack of app lifecycle management capabilities that consumer app stores provide today – or probably will ever provide.

That’s where an enterprise app store should come in. This  is essentially a whitelist of apps – both those hosted on public App  Stores and those hosted internally on corporate servers – that the  corporate mobile device management software (like Sybase’s Afaria) makes available for automated or self-service deployment onto employee  devices.

The MDM software should also be able to offer the reverse – a  blacklist of forbidden apps.

3) “Most mobile devices today aren’t used for/at work. As more  smartphones and tablets are brought into and managed by enterprises, the  proportion of time spent on games and social networking will decrease.”

The assumption here is that as corporations roll out MDM software  to manage and track employee or company-owned devices, they’ll also  crack down on time-sucking apps like games or Facebook.

In some cases, companies will do so. But in most cases, they won’t.

After all, how many of you use work laptops where sites like Facebook  or ESPN.com are blocked outright? Probably not the majority.

I think a  similar situation will evolve in the mobile space. A small sliver of  corporations will crack down on frivolous/entertainment usage, but most  won’t, especially since the security risks from unsafe browsing, i.e.  viruses, so far are not as apparent as on the PC Web. Either way, a good MDM package will enable corporations to deploy either scenario.

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