Branded apps are a mirage

The idea that branded apps would be the next big thing to hit marketing and smartphones is proving to be totally bogus.

Beancounters at Deloitte have been adding up the numbers and dividing by their shoe size, and worked out that the majority of mobile apps commissioned by brands are failing to go anywhere.

The Deloitte report was based on an analysis of apps published on iPhone, Android and Blackberry by a ton of healthcare and consumer brands.

Only one percent of these apps have been downloaded over a million times, and only 20 percent had been downloaded enough to be considered for its survey.

Howard Davies, media partner at Deloitte told the Guardian  that there had been a belief that brand apps were a golden opportunity to communicate directly with consumers and in a more meaningful, long term manner.

He said that there is some truth in this. When brands get it right, the returns can be huge, but most of them are getting it wrong.

One of the first big hits on Apple’s App Store was the branded app from peddler of golden water, Carling’s iPint. It had several million downloads in the first few months after Apple’s store launched. Barclaycard’s Waterslide Extreme iPhone game had been downloaded over 12.5 million times.

But where the others have all stuffed up is that they are either low in quality, or are pure marketing exercises.

Davies said that the way forward for brands is more likely to release apps that have real functionality, solving a problem for users or providing features that are genuinely helpful.

The other problem is that branded apps have been eclipsed by apps and games that have come from nowhere to become brands themselves, such as Rovio Mobile’s Angry Birds.

He added that companies have to do more to market their apps, because for now, many are coming out and are being completely ignored by users.