Offline Apps: The Next Big Market?
Offline apps may become the next big investment opportunity for savvy developers and profit-hungry investors. Consider this: the developing world has seen an explosion of mobile phone ownership. Some experts estimate that within the next ten years there will be 7.1 billion mobile phones in use. Developers who have been focusing primarily on apps that function online may be inadvertently robbing themselves of a highly lucrative opportunity once they consider the likely burden all of these users will place on bandwidth.
Several companies, such as Nokia, have been focusing exclusively on developing offline app delivery systems like the Nokia Life Tools. This system is designed primarily for mLearning, a form of mobile learning conducted on mobile devices. It functions by delivering information to the phone through SMS, or texting. The biggest likely industry for these mLearning tools is the health industry, which will need to train several million more workers to keep up with the explosion in population. Delivering information over a mobile phone may seem like a somewhat slipshod method of learning, but studies have again demonstrated that students will retain the information, depending on how well executed the app is.
Offline apps have also been gaining attention since the launch of Google’s Chromebook, which promises to deliver cloud computing services to its users. The major problem that most users have with this device is the fact that it does not work offline. Anyone who travels out of the range of easy wireless service will invariably experience a disruption in service. In first world countries, this interruption is frequent. In developing nations, the lack of secure access is epidemic. For those who are counting on being able to access their information, offline apps offer a tantalizing and potentially very robust market for developers.
It should be noted that the major players have not completely overlooked the value of offline apps. Mail on the iPhone, for example, is accessible offline. However, the number of offline apps is small compared to the number of online-only apps. This is a field ripe for exploration, especially for entrepreneurs who don’t mind reaping literally billions of dollars from the rapidly developing mobile market in the rest of the world.