Need More Proof That Apps Are (Mostly) Dead?

A few years ago the idea that neglecting to develop an app as your orchestra’s primary point of contact with mobile users seemed unthinkable. My how times have changed. Warning against blindly rushing into the app market have appeared here since early 2012 and a recent article by user experience & usability strategist Lyndon Cerejo in the 11/28/2013 edition of Smashing Magazine drives (yet) another nail into app coffin with a mountain of metrics, such as these (referenced) gems:


  • 95% of downloaded apps are abandoned within a month.
  • 26% of apps downloaded are only used once.

However, his article is simultaneously useful in that it reinforces another point made here during many of these conversations in that any business, commercial and nonprofit alike, shouldn’t shove off the idea of app development but it needs to have a purpose other than regurgitating your primary web content.

Add to that, the development process matters. In fact, it is usually more complex than a standard website design project.

Fortunately, Cerejo’s article contains a series of lessons to learn in order to help you avoid mucking up the process and the first installment is “Validate The Need For An App” Subsequent lessons include a bevy of do and don’t examples which only increases the article’s usefulness.

Do yourself a favor and not only read Cerejo’s article but bookmark it so you can pull it up as reference during a marketing strategy meeting where someone inevitably insists that your orchestra must have an app.

If you need more resource material, here’s a list of the salient posts on the topic here at Adaptistration:

[ilink url=””]The App Is Dead, Long Live The App![/ilink]

[ilink url=””]Understanding The Difference Between Apps and Mobile Websites 2013[/ilink] 

[ilink url=””]Do You Really Need That App?[/ilink] 

[ilink url=””]An App-Propriate Use Of Your Time?[/ilink] 

[ilink url=””]Another Voice Questioning The Need For Apps[/ilink]

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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8 thoughts on “Need More Proof That Apps Are (Mostly) Dead?”

  1. Amen. The responsive/mobile is the simpler logical solution. I have an app and the burden of updating and maintaining yet another place with duplicating information makes me want to scream most days. Yet, like any form of communication, the one day I don’t update the whole shabang, there will be one kind and gentle email/phone call informing me of the error of my ways.
    Eighteen months until I can propose another overhaul. Tick tock, tick tock.

  2. Never mind apps. What is needed is easy access to AV streams and downloads for purchase and or subscription. I subscribe to the BPO, the Met and I love it. The BPO is easy to handle with many devices able to get your big screen TV and associated high end audio system connected to the BPO. The Met player requires that you be able to open a browser on your TV. This is a little more complex, but not that difficult. It seems though to defeat a lot of the over 35 set. I’m geriatric and have no problem getting that accomplished. Every orchestra and opera house needs to have its programs available on a money generating basis as any of these or a combination, high quality digital stream, high quality downloads, and hard Blu-Ray discs. Those that don’t will be doomed. The fact is that the vast majority of music lovers never set foot in a concert hall. You can not balance the books from concert attendees. You have to have those getting access outside the concert hall pay their portion of the freight. Cut out the free stuff. But make the programs worth paying for. Access to the BPO is worth every penny. It is a class act though and through. It has been a life saver during this Minnesota Orchestra lockout.

    • That’s an interesting observation Mark and when you reference the BPO, I assume you mean Berlin, correct? As it is, the situation you described vis-a-vis a subscription service for HD quality content is an example I often use for when a platform specific app is worth developing. the added security, bandwidth, and media performance related issues usually make app development more of a worthwhile investment. Add to that, the subscription services really are a mutually exclusive element from selling tickets to live events and you meet another qualifying aspect for unique app development.

  3. Drew,
    Yes, I do mean the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. I don’t use mobile devices for acces. The BPO is easily accessed, form a number of devices. BD players, receivers, TVs, and some other devices form Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic will give you access without opening a web browser, You just click on the BPO yellow icon in the Apps section. I would point out that connecting via a TV is the most problematic way to do it. It is best to use a device connected to a good AV device, receiver or Pre/pro which connects to the TV and a good audio system via HDMI. If you use Google Chrome you need to make sure you disable Pepper Flash as you will get a quality downgrade all round. We have a couple of residences. At our main residence I access the BPO via my HTPC of my own design and construction. This is very fast, and I use Google Chrome with Pepper Flash disabled. At our secondary residence in the Twin Cities, I use a little Sony Google TV/media player. That has the app for the BPO and I don’t need to open a web browser but I can. At our main residence it is HTPC to pre/pro via HDMI, pre/pro to TV via HDMI, and pre/pro to amps and speakers via analog connections. At the other residence it is Sony player to pre/pro via HDMI, to TV via HDMI and pre/pro out to the amps via analog connections. Works like a charm. I also subscribe to Medici TV and Met Player. These require the opening of a web browser to view and listen. I can view them at both places. It really is not that difficult and according to a Nielsen report which I paid for, the under 35s have no problem, but only 5% of the over 60 crowd can do it. I’m in the latter demographic.

    The quality is excellent. Video from both sites is high quality HD video, audio from the BPO is 320kbs AC3, from custom servers. This gives a better picture than a DVD and the same audio quality. BD is the gold standard. I have some BDs of orchestral, choral music and opera which are stunning in every way. The Royal Opera House are doing a fantastic job with Opera on their Opus Arte label. The offerings are not just their productions, but many others as well. There catalog is already large.

    I have VPN tunnel to the UK, so the BBC think I’m in the UK. I really enjoyed the Proms this year and three a week were televised and I watched them on iPlayer. The audio only Proms are 320 kbs AC3 custom BBC Coyopa servers. In the US we can only get 180kbs AC3 stream and no TV, audio only. However the BBC say next year, the concerts will be on iPlayer for 30 rather than 7 days and after that be available for purchase as high quality downloads.

    Here is the BPO on my system

    There is abundant evidence that the audience for classical music is at an all time high. The problem is that only a very small fraction of that audience will ever set foot in a concert hall. There is too much free stuff out there, and we have to capture this audience and get some payment form them to add to the bottom line. The funding issue is becoming a corroding cancer for the musical arts world wide. The elite donor pool has changing values, and not even the RAH filled to its 6000 capacity fully pays the bills. We are the poster boys for that problem in Minnesota. So we probably should be the ones helping to figure this out, with new imaginative approaches.

    The YouTube subscription site should be fully utilized. I see some UK theater groups have a YouTube subscription channel. They also need to sell “seats” beyond the walls. This is significant, as the Guthrie theater in Minneapolis has also just posted a thumping operating loss.

    This is going to be an era of transforming change. Those that manage it well like the BPO will survive, the rest will die.

    My final admonition, is that the arts scene is no longer solely local but global. This trend will pick up speed fast. Unfortunately most arts organizations have not taken these fundamental changes on board, and have not even begun to figure out how to manage them.

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