Apps are the new Internet. Actually, they are transforming it from what has largely been a shared space (public websites, social communities, and email communications) to something more. Apps often use the Internet to deliver experiences and now more than ever governments need to get caught up.
We need more apps and over the course of the next few years we should expect to see every brand attempt to develop an app presence. Some will do it well and others will be brand failures but make no mistake… a website will not be enough. Sites optimized for mobile devices are really just stop points on the way to apps.
When the major financial institutions in Canada released apps they signaled that the app had reached a new level of significance. There are still many apps we need. An app for the bus schedule (particularly one that would tell me when the bus is actually arriving), an app for accessing city services, booking national parks, or accessing information about an event are all needed. Interactive help apps for my products would also be useful as would those that help me manage my home (e.g. electricity consumption).
Many of these app needs relate to government services. The biggest question facing governments is probably the question of who should be responsible for creating, managing and promoting government apps. For some things (particularly financial issues), government will have to create the app but for many of the others it is about getting the information into the hands of people who can best turn it into an app. As a recent Deloitte analysis point out:
The unlocking of government through the release of raw transaction data represents a fundamentally new form of openness. It will place governments under an unprecedented level of scrutiny and accountability, while offering the potential to improve public services.
One expects that private sector initiative to improve services through apps would happen quicker but this cannot happen unless governments of all levels make the raw data accessible. This represents, however, a fundamental change in the approach that governments take to information.
Apps are primarily aimed at the mobile phone market, but the ipad and other portable tablets are blurring the lines between phone and computer. More importantly, as more and more people discover the value of apps, expect them to show up more frequently on your desktop.