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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, January 30, 2023

College 101: Apps and Institutions

I went to a museum the other day, and I saw that they had an app. Why on Earth would a museum--just one museum--need its own app? The more apps I see around these days, the less I think we need so many. I only use a few big apps--ones like Google Maps--and it seems very silly to me that so many smaller apps exist. Is anyone actually using these? Why do institutions and companies put the effort into creating them? Experts, can you change my mind about these apps, or at least explain to me why they should exist?

There’s no denying that big apps like Google Maps have more users than smaller apps. But is it true that smaller apps don’t serve any purpose or benefit the companies and institutions that create them? That’s a tough case to make, particularly on a large scale. The truth is, there are benefits to creating an app even if it will never rival Google Maps or Netflix in popularity. Indeed, if there weren’t, then these institutions and organizations wouldn’t be making them! Let’s examine the case for smaller mobile apps.

Let’s start with an idea you probably agree agree with: companies and nonprofits need websites. It wasn’t so long ago that this wasn’t true--after all, the internet has only been widely used for a few decades. But nowadays, it’s undeniable: people spend a lot of time on the internet. They use it to find things to buy and to complete those purchases. They use it to plan trips and to learn about things, from the hours that a museum is open to how much it costs to get in.

We’ve been an internet-addicted species for a while now, but we’re changing the way in which we use it. Increasingly, the internet has become something that we look at while we’re on the go. We now spend an average of five hours a day on our mobile devices. And, according to Google, more than a third of Google searches are now mobile searches.

That means that it’s not enough to have a presence on the internet alone. Any organization or company needs a mobile-friendly presence on the internet, which means a mobile-friendly site and--yes--an app.

There are a lot of benefits to a great app, say developers at Acendia which builds apps for museums, zoos, and aquariums. At its simplest, an app just provides another way to look at important information and process important transactions and tasks. Maybe you prefer to do these things in a browser, but some others may prefer an app, and that makes an app worth building in many cases.

Apps can also streamline and simplify things, banishing the browser bar and using the full screen on a mobile device to do things like display museum maps, accept user queries, and more.

Building an app isn’t necessarily cheap, but it can be cost-effective even at lower user counts. An app won’t necessarily make a big profit, but it can offer benefits to organizations of all types on our mobile age. So while you may not use such apps yourself too often, the truth is undeniable: small-time mobile apps are useful, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” -- Steve Jobs

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