The Age of the App is Over
Controversial title; interesting article. I won't spoil the punchline, but it's probably not the angle you're expecting.
I think it's absolutely clear, here in the year 2023, that apps are going nowhere. But the age of 'homescreen-icon-as-front-gate' can't end soon enough.
Are data clean rooms here to stay?
You have certainly heard the term
data clean room by now.
I still consider the whole clean room space to be mostly an echo chamber of hype — a lot of people think they want one (because it's the buzziest new thing), but relatively few actually know how they would use it. This meme comes to mind.
And that's the crux of the issue, because a data clean room is just category of infrastructure. The hype machine promises that this infrastructure can power next-generation functionality to replace existing solutions and do things normal people actually care about…but we heard the same thing about Web3.
McDonald's Dominated Food Apps Last Year
Yes, they clearly did. McDonald's is killing it with their digital strategy (and don't forget, they acquired a whole company back in 2019 to do precisely this, so it's not exactly a surprise).
But at the same time, these download numbers are a reflection of the real world: McDonald's has way more locations than anyone else. So of course app downloads will reflect this — they simply have a larger addressable market.
New rules in Europe to curb Big Tech’s market power start to apply
We've seen a seemingly endless stream of death-by-thousand-papercuts challenges to the app store model. But the DMA (Digital Markets Act) regulation in the EU seems to be gaining consensus as the first thing that actually could force significant changes.
…but probably only in Europe. I expect Apple and Google will continue fighting this as a battle of inches. A first example: to accommodate this new regulation, there are rumors that iOS 17 might allow sideloading of apps…but yes, probably only in Europe.
TikTok begins blocking links to app store pages from creators’ bios
Every walled garden has an innate desire to prevent users from leaving…that's the whole point, after all: collect eyeballs so they can be monetized.
Of course, the actual monetization process often necessarily involves allowing those eyeballs to trickle out of the garden, so a better metaphor might be a reservoir with a hydroelectric dam.
Every social network seems to go through a rite of passage that involves intentionally breaking any non-monetized link out of the garden. Most seem to eventually relent, but now it's TikTok's turn.
Instagram and Facebook will force their checkout experience on Shops soon
Following on from the link right above…what if your hydroelectric dam had a magical way to put the water right back into the same reservoir?
That's how we get to content fortresses.
The first-order rationale for this upcoming change is obviously 'tracking': if you can't reliably get out-of-garden measurement anymore because Apple tells you it's not allowed, the only solution is to bring it all inside the garden, right?.
But doing it this way has second-order benefits for the walled garden model too, because now the eyeballs can check out any time they like, but they can never leave. Privacy changes just provide useful cover, because brands would never have accepted it otherwise.
Privacy & Security
How A Minor Apple WebKit Tweak Can Send Ripples (Or Trigger Tsunamis) Across Marketing Tech
The WebKit team has a 'we treat tracking techniques like security vulnerabilities' stance. And they recently detected (and then plugged) another leak in that bucket.
This is a game of whack-a-mole. Apple can never truly 'win', because there are equally determined (and creative) people on the other side with every incentive to come back for another round.
Context SDK - Introducing the most intelligent way to know how and when to monetize your user
Context SDK leverages machine learning to make optimized suggestions when to upsell an in-app purchase, what type of ad and dynamic copy to display, or predict what a user is about to do in your app, and dynamically change the product flows to best fit their current situation.
This is really cool. And it doesn't require sketchy behavioral identity graphs either…it's all just on-device processing.
Tips & Techniques
You know how Apple tends to roll out new iOS versions in phases? Probably yes, if you've been reading this newsletter for a while.
But did you know there is a neat feature that lets you do the same thing with your own app? Also probably yes, if you're a developer responsible for release coordination. But for the rest of us, here's what it looks like behind the scenes.
Using dark patterns to overcharge for pizza
Are these actually dark patterns? I suppose so, technically?
The article assumes all this is intentional, to deceive and swindle app users. I'd posit that an equally plausible explanation could be this: pizza discount deals are a surprisingly complex problem, and the better-than-nothing solution here just isn't capable of processing all of the permutations. But maybe I'm not sufficiently cynical.
A Eulogy for Dark Sky, a Data Visualization Masterpiece
The Dark Sky bandwagon…who knew people could be so passionate about a weather app?
What's particularly curious to me: Apple clearly intends the default iOS weather app to be the successor state for Dark Sky, and Apple is generally known for great UX…so presumably there were intentional decisions to include some of these elements and not others (yes, this article includes comparison visuals).
Legal - European DSA Recipients of Services Report
With the EU's DSA (Digital Services Act) now rolling out, Apple was mandated to disclose its monthly active users in Europe.
...and so it has:
- iOS App Store: 101 million
- iPadOS App Store: 23 million
- macOS App Store: 6 million
- tvOS App Store: 1 million
- watchOS App Store: under 1 million
- Apple Books: under 1 million
- Podcasts paid subscriptions: under 1 million
I'm not sure quite what I expected these numbers to be, but some of them are smaller than I'd have guessed.
Lyft layover option
I know this is supposed to be a parody…but maybe it's a really good idea?!
Connecting, Acquiring, and Growing Audiences: Lessons for Fan-Centric Entertainment Brands
VP of Marketing and Digital Products at Ultimate Fighting Championship: Kristen Banks
Kristen offers valuable insights into how to connect with fans, acquire audiences, and develop long-lasting relationships throughout the customer journey and funnel. Whether you're in the sports industry or any other fan-centric industry, this episode is a must-listen for marketers looking to grow and engage with their audiences.
Are you within striking distance of NYC? Our team is hosting a half-day VIP event for mobile growth leaders on May 10 (this upcoming Wednesday).
It's invite-only, and we have just a few spots left. I'll be there to moderate a roundtable on privacy changes, so if rubbing elbows for a day with a few dozen of NY's finest mobile minds sounds like your thing, hit reply and I'll see about sending an invitation your way!Alex Bauer