SAN FRANCISCO: The mobile home screen is emerging as the new battleground for app makers, with marketers keen to access the user data that such "launcher" apps can capture.
The Financial Times reported research from Flurry showing a tenfold increase in the use of these apps during the past year. And while the total numbers remained relatively small, chief executive Simon Khalaf maintained the speed of the apps' adoption meant they could not be ignored.
"The battle for the mobile home screen has begun," he declared.
Flurry estimates suggest there are already some 30m US users of home-screen apps, which effectively add another user interface on top of the manufacturer's default and allow consumers to personalise their device to far greater degree.
For example, existing apps might be organised into folders, such as 'news' or 'social', while more sophisticated options enable the phone to decide, based on time and place, what apps are displayed; so a different set could appear on the home screen when a user is in the office.
"We think phones can bring content to us without having to search for it," explained Mark Daiss, co-founder of one such app maker, Aviate. "We feel the home screens should be getting the best content to you the moment it's useful," he added.
But consumers are required to grant a degree of access they may not be comfortable with. Aviate, for example, demands permission to read text messages and calendar events and to know the device's location even when the GPS function is turned off.
There is clearly scope for marketers to use such information to target advertising and to build on the app-install advertising already offered by Facebook, Twitter and now Google.
This week Google announced it would let app developers target its mobile customers based on the apps they had already downloaded. Thus, someone using an app to measure how far they run, might see an ad for an app helping to track their diet.
It is also integrating this service with AdWords so that businesses can buy advertisements that, when clicked, will redirect users directly inside their already-downloaded and installed mobile apps.
The stakes are potentially high — as much as 60% of Facebook's mobile ad revenues are thought to come from app-install ads.
Data sourced from Financial Times, TechCrunch; additional content by Warc staff