Watch a two-year-old swipe her way through a preschool app and you might think, “She’s born with it.” The ability to tap, pinch, and tilt to see the next sticker dance across the screen or hear the next cow moo in approval seems like it comes naturally, but it’s more likely she learned by watching others — her mom using the online scheduler to book an appointment on her phone, or dad searching for the latest sports scores. But none of that matters to an engaged toddler.
For her, the phone represents the quickest way to escape the boredom of waiting in a crowded doctor’s office, sitting in an uncomfortable grocery cart, or enduring a never-ending car ride. For her, the app has a job: to keep her occupied until it’s time for the next activity. If the app does its job, she happily continues playing. If the screen freezes up, or the game is too complicated, she either throws the phone on the floor and kicks off a tantrum, or simply chooses another game.
Like the preschool app, the mobile apps we use every day have a purpose. They simplify our lives and make a particular task easier to complete, whether it’s transferring money between bank accounts, or finding the perfect refrigerator. And when those apps don’t perform, worse for a brand than throwing a tantrum, consumers simply delete the app and find a better one.