People looking at mobile phones

Ok, crazy idea time: I just picked up my phone and found that there were updates for about ten of my applications, some of which I know were updated just days ago, or at most, maybe a couple weeks ago. I find this somewhat annoying. Firstly, though not really of concern for me as I am still grandfathered in to Verizon’s unlimited data plans, is that updates take bandwidth. If you have to contend with multiple updates that come one after another for each of your apps, many only to fix one small thing that should have been grouped in with others, and you’re not using an unlimited data plan, these app updates are wasting your bandwidth allotment, and potentially costing you money if they result in overages.

Second, and far more importantly, the app has become a mainstay in everyday lifestyles, and I think it’s high time we started treating apps a bit more like other parts of our content-oriented lifestyles – namely: music and movies.

Let me explain. Tuesdays are, in the U.S. anyway, and for several good reasons, the day that new music and movies on DVD/Blu-Ray get released for purchase. Digital music and movie sites promote new albums and movies for purchase or rental that day, and stores first stock their shelves with hard copies of the new releases, too. In the UK and France it’s Mondays, and in Germany it’s on Fridays, but you get the idea.

The reasons are many for why the U.S. does this on Tuesday, but maybe the biggest is that Billboard has always published its charts of the most popular/best selling albums/movies on Wednesdays (which basically means they are taking numbers compiled on Tuesdays for the preceding week). Releasing new albums on Tuesday gives the artists and record labels the longest run possible to chalk-up first-week sales figures, and see who has the #1 album.

There are other reasons it’s Tuesday, too, like, for instance, shipments of hard copies to retailers can be done on Mondays rather than on a weekend. But with all-digital media like apps, many of these considerations aren’t really needed.

So it’s down to the popularity game. And I really think the app market is big enough and important enough now to really benefit from this kind of competition. There is already a big hype cycle for the most sought-after consumer technologies, apps included. With a target date like the music industry has, this could increase that competition, and yield some great publicity for new, emerging apps. And perhaps most crucially, with the tech economy set to lean even more heavily on apps in the coming years, this could indeed be a good catalyst.

But back to the point about updates and bandwidth, which analysis of yields further positive examples for why App Day is a good idea. Not only should app developers and app stores look to consolidate new releases on to a certain day, but I think updates to existing apps should all come on that same day, too. From the consumer’s perspective, this is easier to manage, would mean less bandwidth use as apps would need to be updated less frequently, and also would likely make each update more substantial – so they would be getting a little more value from their update. From a developer’s perspective, more substantial updates give them an opportunity to hype the new capabilities more, giving them increased publicity. I also have a hunch they would benefit from increased customer loyalty, as consumers would reward a worthwhile update with better reviews, and better word-of-mouth marketing.

From the mobile operator’s perspective, they are already equipped with technologies to control bandwidth usage and shuffle around network capacity from cell tower to cell tower to make the most efficient use of mobile data traffic. If they could anticipate a day where a large percentage of app updates and downloads would happen, they could allot bandwidth accordingly and avoid choking networks.

So why hasn’t App Day happened yet? Has the Billboard of the app world not been created yet? Am I missing something intrinsic in the mobile app economy and lifestyle? I’m genuinely interested. What do you think? Would you welcome App Day?


This post was first published by Nate Hubbell on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.