Mobile Apps: Fact vs. Fiction

I saw a razor commercial recently in which a strong, muscular actor is admiring a new vibrating razor on an iPad-like device. In the new M&M’s commercial advertising the “all brown bag” promotion, a cartoon chocolate candy chats casually with coworkers with a cartoon iPad under his arm. And in every car insurance commercial I’ve ever seen, you hear something like this:

Get Car Insurance X, with the new app that shows you directions to your mechanic’s shop!

Indeed, it seems everybody and their sister is trying to hop on the mobile train, regardless of whether it actually has anything to do with their business. I mean, how often do you really need to go to a car repair shop? Once every three years? Do you really need a mobile app to be prepared for that eventuality, when you could simply plug the address into Google Maps?

The mobile revolution has widespread impact, but these examples seem like a stretch. I would rather my dry cleaners have an app than my car insurance provider — and yet, my car insurance has apps-aplenty and my dry cleaners doesn’t.

One of the primary selling points of Cloudmetrx is mobility. But that’s because, in our scenario, mobility really matters. I started wondering what the differentiating characteristic is — what makes the Geico app a stretch, but a Cloudmetrx app not a stretch? This is the litmus test I came up with:

A good mobile app prevents you from ending up stranded.

What do I mean by stranded? Things like this qualify:

  • I came all the way to Brooklyn to go to this party, and I’m completely lost.
  • There is an emergency and I need to contact a particular doctor.
  • I’m in Mexico City and need somewhere to eat that I won’t get dysentery.

As pleasant as mobile devices are, for general purpose computing, they’re not the easiest devices to use. When they come in huge is when there is some overwhelming advantage to having on-demand access to particular information.

Neither Mars, Gillette nor Geico provides information that meets this criterion.

Cloudmetrx, however, does. It prevents its users from getting stranded. If you’re in a cab on the way to a meeting and some market-moving event happens, you need to know your risk and return immediately so you can take action. You can’t simply wait until you get back to the office — you need to know now, lest your portfolio becomes worthless by the time you react.

So next time you are dreaming up a great new iPhone app, think to yourself, does it prevent me from getting stranded?


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