A recent Gartner study into technology estimated that less than .01 per cent of all all of today’s mobile apps will be profitable by 2018. This has led many economists to wonder if we are currently in an app market bubble?

There is the possibility that the current slew of app developers may stabilise and find a market share enough to sustain them. But it seems unlikely when you consider the relevance of the apps currently being produced.

Take, for instance, Taco bell’s new ordering app.

Fast food giant Taco bell has beaten its rivals to the punch and introduced an app that allows you to order food online. This can then be picked up through the drive through. Effectively, this app removes the need to speak to anyone. But what is it actually worth?

Parking your car, walking into a Taco Bell, and saying ‘Two Tacos please’, and waiting 30 seconds will cost you, at most a total of a few minutes. Unless you are incredibly time-poor the speed up in service is of no use to you. Therefore the app is of no use to you.

The app appears even more worthless when you consider you can already use your mobile phone to contact the store, order your two tacos, and pick them up through the drive-through.

So why invest in developing such a useless app at all? Because the app is a gimmick designed to create business – even though it adds no value. And creating business without creating value is – pretty much – the definition of a business bubble.

Once this was understood economists took a step back and began looking at the app/ technology industry as a whole. They began wondering just how much of it creates value.

Emails, for instance, rather than allowing us more time through faster communication, actually leech our time by requiring constant surveillance and response. This is technology having exactly the opposite effect of what it was intended for.

Personal organisers do nothing more than what you can do with a notepad and pen. Surveys report that most of the features and gimmicks on personal organisers and smart phones are left unused by all but the most gadget-loving technophiles.

HBO’s Silicon Valley depicts this perfectly. In the first season a salesman attempts to sell Richard an app to assist him to relocate his car in a large shopping mall. Richard responds by asking why you wouldn’t simply write down the location of the car before you left it. The app is more expensive, requires more complicated, requires more work, is more easily lost or broken than a notepad and pen – and it only achieves the same thing!

Investors are beginning to r-evaluate the worth of the apps being produced. The gimmicks are wearing off.

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