I've tried my best to embrace Spotify. Ever since news broke of its collaboration with Facebook, I've done my best to remain an active user. That's what Mark Zuckerberg wants. He envisions a world of seamless sharing on the internet. I know this because he said so at his F8 presentation, the annual Facebook developers' conference. But of course, Zuckerberg just wants more users on his company's app platform.
And Facebook isn't the only company pushing apps down the gullets of every internet user on the planet.
Earlier today, when I updated my Spotify application to the newest version, I was prompted to install new Spotify apps from some of the biggest names in the music media. Publications such as Pitchfork, The Guardian, Rolling Stone and Fuse have developed applications that exist within the desktop Spotify application. Layers within layers of applications, much like the labyrinthine storyline of the movie Inception.
While the benefits of having my favorite music reviews accessible from within my music player is helpful--I just discovered a great band called Sepalcure while writing this--the prevalence of applications within the software and websites I'm already using is mind-boggling. Spotify apps are simply a bridge too far.
I can only imagine what it's like trying to navigate all these platforms as a company. Of course, every business wants to maximize their reach, and in the 21st century, they do so by developing an application for as many platforms as possible. But at what point do you stop?
As I previously reported, although mobile application downloads are increasing tremendously--hitting 25 billion downloads this year--the greatest challenges that any mobile app developer faces is user retention. How often have you downloaded an application to your smartphone only to never actually use it?
The same thing seems to be happening to social media applications. While the statistics aren't readily available, just from a simple random sample of users and developers, it's evident to me that user-retention is also a problem among Facebook developers in addition to Google+ developers. As an individual, I've tried several apps for social media, but very few have made a lasting impression. I fear that it will be the same for Spotify apps.
Facebook, Google+, iOS and Android have created an app overload problem for internet users. The market is being flooded with thousands of apps, and yet, consumers are typically using very few applications on a day-to-day business. Moreover, very few businesses have actually found a way to tie into every app platform. They've either dedicated all their resources to one platform or simply disregarded one of the app platforms entirely. Usually, it's a case of both.
The result is a fragmented and diluted app market worldwide. The booming numbers of app downloads worldwide are misleading. People, in my estimation, are not using a large majority of the apps available or even those that they have access to. If app-use on iOS and Android is any indication, social-media apps, including Spotfiy apps, will have a user-retention problem.
I'm tired of apps. Just today, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and several other publications came out lauding apps on various platforms. But frankly, I don't think the apps recommended by anyone will actually help me in my day-to-day life. There isn't a need for most apps and, therefore, people need to get off the app bandwagon. While I'll continue to try the new Spotify apps, I suspect that they'll eventually fade out of my life, ultimately facing the same problem as apps around the world: user-retention.