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Why Single Purpose Apps Are the Future of Mobile Engagement

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Welcome to Jay Today, 3-minute lessons and commentary on business, social media, and digital marketing from New York Times best-selling author and venture capitalist Jay Baer. Join Jay daily for insights on trends, quick tips, observations, and inspiration. Jay Today is the show for you.

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Online and offline, consumers are turning away from bloated, multi-purpose apps (and retailers), and embracing single purpose apps and speciality retailers.

Recently, I launched a brand-new video podcast called Jay Today. I upload a new, 3-minute video every business day, where I talk about social media, content marketing, business and life. It’s a way for me to talk about what’s in my head RIGHT NOW.
JayToday is available on Youtube, iTunes (as a video podcast), and at The show is sponsored by Sprout Social (which I use for my social media), and Candidio (a great video editing service).
Here’s a Jay Today video about why apps and decentralization are the future of online engagement.

Why Single Purpose Apps Are the Future of Online Engagement

As you may know, Facebook has launched a brand new app for Facebook messages. They took the messaging function out of the main Facebook app and carved it out separately. What you may not know is that Facebook now has eight, count them, eight separate apps in the App Store, LinkedIn somewhat surprisingly has six apps of their own, Foursquare now has split itself up into multiple apps.

(Note: And in the two days since I recorded this, Google announced they are breaking photos out of G+ joining Google Hangouts as stand-alone functionality)

This is definitely a trend, this breaking up complex functionality into small individual pieces, and creating an app for each piece, it’s definitely here to stay. It is the opposite of the portal phenomena that we saw at one point. So back in the day Yahoo was just a search engine. Then it added all kinds of functionality, and became a portal. Google was just a search engine at one point, added a bunch of functionality and now became a portal, or a multi-service organization.

With Apps, Less is More

What we’re finding is that today with modern technology, and modern consumer preference, people who are using mobile phones, tablets and more to access the Internet at their primary viewing screen don’t want portals. They don’t want apps or circumstances that have all kinds of stuff baked into it, because frankly it’s a pain in the ass, to dick around with your site navigation and figure out what you want specifically in a mobile environment.

So what we’re seeing is very specific uni-functional apps that do one thing, and do it well. It may seem a hassle to have that many apps on your phone, and I guess it is, but it’s absolutely what consumers want. Even Mark Zuckerberg talked about this in the New York Times recently, and he said “It’s so much easier in a mobile environment to access an app that does one thing.”

Decentralization Isn’t Just in Apps, it’s in the Real World, Too

Copy of  Copy of Add text (2)  (4) (4)But here’s the bigger trend, we’re seeing the exact same thing play out in three dimensions, in the real world. The exact same day that Facebook announced their messaging app, a story came out that said that department stores like Wal-Mart and Target are seeing decreasing revenues, and boutique stores that specialize in one particular item, shoes, ties, socks, whatever, are seeing increasing revenues. Sound familiar?

We are starting to turn our back on online and offline generalities, and we’re starting to embrace things that are specialists. Same thing happens in baseball, you got all kinds of people making money being a left-handed relief pitcher that throw to one batter per game. Same thing in the NFL, people specialize in a particular down and distance situation.

We are entering an era of specialization both online and off, and that’s a trend that you need to be watching.

Shout-Out to Drew Davis

osvs6ki4cm68ssq41210_400x400Today’s Sprout Social shout-out is for my friend Andrew Davis, Andrew’s a fantastic guy, he’s the author of the book “Brandscaping,” he’s great on Twitter, and in social media. He’s also one of the very, very best speakers out there, if you have a chance to see Andrew on a stage near you, you should take advantage of it, because he is fantastic, Drew Davis author of “Brandscaping” is today’s shout-out.

Get More Jay Today

Feedback on the new show has been great – especially the snackable length. I would be so honored if you watched the episode above and/or some others. I’d love your thoughts too!
JayToday is available on YoutubeiTunes (as a video podcast), and at
Here are the shows from the last few days:
5 Reasons You’ll Eventually Abandon the NFL
How to Fix the TSA Without Crowdsourcing
Why Wise Men are Confident and Fools are Certain
Teens are Showing us the Future of Social Media

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