The mobile app marketplace is an ever-growing mix of practicality and gaming that users are more inclined to access than ever before.
According to a recent study from Flurry Analytics, Apple's App Store and the Android Market will both exceed 10 billion downloads in 2011, Mobile Marketer reports. And while more apps were built for Apple than Android, Flurry vice president of marketing Peter Farango predicts that downloads between the two platforms will be relatively even in 2012.
Whichever network your mobile phone runs on, be it the two previously mentioned juggernauts or others like Microsoft or Amazon, it probably goes without saying that you have an app or two loaded onto your phone.
But how effective are these apps at initiating some sort of mobile marketing influence and getting you to actually purchase from that brand? Forbes cites a Localytics study that found 26 percent of all apps downloaded in 2010 were only used once.
However, some companies managed to exceed expectations this year.
Mobile Marketer found that Pepsi's drink SoBe released an interactive app that offers users the option of snapping a photo of themselves and seeing what they look like with features such as a beard or animated accessories. The app is free, there's no commitment involved and it lets customers engage in a company's branded product more than once.
Forbes notes that another feature of worthy app development is the ability to keep existing users engaged.
Mobile Marketer points out that apps from both McDonald's and Facebook were able to achieve this.
In the case of McDonald's, it's likely that many of its users have, at one point, tasted the chain's food or are repeat customers. Its mobile app has proven to be "an essential part of its marketing mix," by providing nutrition facts, employment opportunities, promotions and locations of the nearest restaurants using geo-location technology.
In addition, Facebook modified its user interface for the iPhone to match its desktop version - by adding the recently rolled-out Timeline feature to profiles. The company is constantly updating its mobile offering and this is just another example of how Facebook stays ahead of the game.
The holiday season proved how integral mobile devices have become to the user experience. An IBM Coremetrics report found that traffic via cellphones accounted for 18.3 percent of all web traffic on Christmas Day.