A look back at some of the marketing world’s most hyped apps
Augmented reality is one of the most celebrated and talked-about aspects to come out of the Pokémon app, but was this always the case? Not so, says Gartner Hype Cycle. According to this annual tool, the technology had been on a downward trend since 2012, stuck in the “disillusionment” phase.
Only time will tell if Pokémon GO will be as prolific as everyone is saying, but the hysteria surrounding the augmented reality app got me thinking about those other apps we all thought would change everything. I decided to check in on how those other game-changers were doing and if they’ve triumphed, pivoted, or are buried wherever floppy discs ended up.
Code Red: QR codes
Remember when those black and white boxes were everywhere? And how everyone was using words like “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” to describe the technology? The general idea was that you’d download a quick response code scanner application and your entire world would be transformed into a magical land of highly accessible information.
Except, in reality, marketers overestimated the general public’s understanding and acceptance of QR codes, the scanning technology relied on third-party apps and rarely worked the way they were supposed to, and the pressure to jump on the bandwagon resulted in some seriously ill-fated QR code placements (read at the top of billboards).
Okay, so we all learned some hard lessons from QR Codes: The Early Years, but is the technology really dead or is it pivoting? I think we can all agree if QR codes want to make any kind of comeback in marketing, third-party scanning apps are out of the question and the technology would need to be built-in to smartphone cameras. Why put one more step between our audience and the content we’re developing?
In the meantime, there might be one present-day exception to the QR code death sentence: Snapchat. It’s not that hard to add a person via their username, but it is just so much more fun to add them via their Snapcode.
Checking in?: Location sharing apps
It’s circa 2012. Everyone’s favorite band is Fun, everyone is talking about how Disney would ruin “Star Wars,” and it seems like everyone is using Foursquare. Created in 2008 and launched at SXSW in 2009, the Foursquare app leveraged smartphone GPS technology to enable location sharing. At its peak in 2013, Foursquare had 43 million users and other apps were quickly popping up that allowed people to “check in.”
Fast forward four years and, one could argue, everyone was mostly wrong about all of those things. In May of 2014, Foursquare launched Swarm, a companion app that reimagined the social networking and location sharing functions as separate apps. And by August of 2014, Foursquare 8.0 removed the check-in to focus solely on local search. The location-sharing app had fallen from mobile grace — by the time 2015 hit, there were a slew of articles condemning the technology as passé.
But is it really all doom and gloom for location sharing? I’d argue that the technology has pivoted and been implemented into most every app, but especially social apps.
Case in point: Instagram. After I’ve finally managed to snap the perfect photo of my entrée and I’m ready to post it for the world to see, Instagram is already suggesting what restaurant I’m at for the location tag. When I choose to include my location with my Instagram posts, I’m confirming that the original sentiment of Foursquare is still alive and well: We want people to know what we’re doing and where we’re doing it.
And content creators should take notice because posts with location tags receive 79 percent higher engagement — that’s right. Now try and tell me location sharing is dead.
Glassy-eyed: Augmented reality
Is Pokémon GO shining a light on the fact that augmented reality has been cool this whole time? Or did it have to pivot a bit to live up to the hype? My vote is for the latter scenario.
Think about Snapchat — those interactive filters that respond to movement and allow you to wear flower crowns without braving the crowds at Coachella. That’s augmented reality, and it’s a far cry from the elite, dare I say snooty, attitude that surrounded Google Glass back in 2013. Arguably the biggest drawback with Google Glass was that people, unless they were a savvy tech executive, couldn’t picture the technology melding well with their everyday lives.
If you’re in a public space, take two seconds to look around right now. Do you see one or more people taking a selfie? Or walking around holding their phone in a slightly precarious position? Those are real people and they are most likely participating in augmented reality as we speak. That, my friends, is proof that augmented reality has pivoted away from an impressive yet convoluted technology and toward an accessible, everyday occurrence that the masses have embraced with open smartphones celebrex online. Creating custom snapchat filters is an easy way marketers can capitalize on the trend and remain relevant with audiences.
It is what it is
All of these technologies changed the way we interact with mobile content. However, their shelf life is greatly influenced by how we, as humans, interact with technology over time. So, should we bite our tongues and embrace the wait-and-see approach when it comes to new technologies and let others work out the kinks? Probably not, if we want to be on top of the latest trends and bring the ones that are a good fit to our clients as quickly as possible.
Maybe, instead, we should embrace new technology for what it is: new. We should accept that problems will arise, and, if it’s worth saving, developers and marketers will have to pivot along. Technology is constantly evolving and so is our behavior toward it. Most importantly, it needs to evolve with the needs and trends of its users to stay relevant.