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Why do most branded apps fail to succeed?

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Deloitte has published a report that confirms that the majority of mobile apps commissioned by brands are failing to provide any beneficial returns.

80% of branded apps analysed by Deloitte had been downloaded less than 1000 times, despite the fact that the 3 stores included in the study generate 1.6billion downloaded every month.

"Brands view apps as a golden opportunity to communicate directly with consumers and in a more meaningful, long term manner," says Howard Davies, media partner at Deloitte. "When brands get it right, the returns can be huge." The problem appears to be that most are getting it wrong.

Some branded apps have been a success though; think Carling’s iPint (several million downloads) and Barclaycard’s Waterslide Extreme iPhone game (12.5 million downloads at last count). So why - if these cases prove that branded apps can be a success – are the majority flopping so badly?

Low quality/pure marketing: the best way to achieve success through an app release is to ensure they have real functionality, either through problem solving or providing meaningful features.Unknown apps/games: many branded apps have been eclipsed by virtually unheard of games; for example, Angry Birds is well past the 200million downloads mark and has become a brand in it’s own right.Lack of promotion: the third reason is a bit of a shock because it’s so simple – branded apps often lack sufficient promotion to back them up. And this suggests that few brands believe their app is strong enough to cut through the app store clutter.

But a decent amount of downloads is not that unattainable… Deloitte's report suggests that the answer is to make more use of smartphone hardware, including the accelerometer, touchscreen, camera and GPS.

Brands need to go back to basics when planning their apps and really think about the following two questions; what is their app for, and how do they plan to promote it?

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