Meta vs Builder.AI: The future of the app industry heading
May was an interesting month for the app industry. Microsoft announced an undisclosed investment into app-building startup ‘Builder.AI’ that aims to allow anyone and everyone the opportunity to build their own app. A little later in the month, news broke from Meta that they’re planning to release a ‘twitter killer’ app, a competing text-based app that hopes to knock Elon off his perch as a leader in the app news space.
These two developments bring into question the future of the app industry and the direction it takes. Does the future lie in everyone being able to make and produce their own app, or does it rely on megacorporations like Meta, with its near infinite resource, purchasing capability to rival our favourite apps and stir up competition where perhaps none is needed? Like with most things in life, the answer is not black and white (Builder.Ai or Meta) but perhaps more a compromise between the two. In this article we’ll have a look at both sides and identify the pros and cons that they bring to the app industry.
Since the renaming of Facebook to ‘Meta’ back in the autumn of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg and his army of developers, marketers and underlings have been on a warpath. However, to date, this is not necessarily a war that Meta is winning. The subdued reception of their prized ‘metaverse’ coupled with the astronomical costs that the project has racked up, has been the story of the company for the last couple years. Insurmountable investment in projects whose end result is underwhelming to say the least.
Now, sensing their company is quickly falling out of touch with the consumer, with dwindling numbers of users and activity on Facebook, Mark and Meta are turning their eye towards Twitter’s dominance in the social media app space. Nicknamed ‘Barcelona’, Meta’s text-based twitter is due out sometime this summer and will aim to drag users away from Twitter, ailing since Elon Musk’s takeover.
We've seen plenty of companies try already to compete with Twitter over recent years (Mastadon, Truth Social to name a couple) - have they become a runaway success? Quite simply, no.
Why is this? It’s because people aren't looking for another Twitter just because they disagree with the owner or his views - they're bored of the concept and it no longer excites people enough to make them go and switch to a 'newer' version. Just like when people got bored of Facebook, and will ultimately tire of Snapchat, Instagram etc - many of these tech companies are simply transient unicorns that burn with incredible intensity only to slowly fade into irrelevance.
So what does the alternative look like? Cue Builder.Ai
If you let them build it, will the users come?
On the other side of this existential debate on the app industry lies Builder.Ai. Recently invested in by Microsoft to help develop its offering of an AI, low (or no)-code platform to assist the creation of an app, the late stage startup aims to remove any and all barriers that creatives face when it comes to developing an app in 2023. No one can deny the noble aim that Builder.Ai sets out to achieve, app development, building and management has traditionally been one of complexity, requiring unique and specialist skills such as coding. However Builder.Ai plans to change that, aiming to achieve what Wix & Squarespace did in the website building sector but for apps.
However, as with anytime that a product becomes innately democratised, questions are raised about whether access to such things are beneficial to the industry on the whole. Simply put, just because anyone can make an app, should they?
Taking the specialist out of the app development sphere, brings the question of the quality of these apps and the finished product. Unfortunately, this could result in a swathe of generic apps entering the app store that is already dealing with record levels of security and fraud issues. This could have an impact on the consumers' opinions and attitudes towards both the app store and apps on the whole if poor quality apps become more frequent in their daily lives.
With the ever-increasing competition on the app store, generic apps simply won’t cut it anymore. App stores should be prepared to increase their standards and requirements for inclusion on the store to help encourage a higher quality of end products. At ConsultMyApp, we know that this competition for users’ attention is higher than ever, with the average 30-day retention rate just 7% for the App Store and 6% for Android Play Store.
Building an app industry for the future
Great apps ultimately require investment, whether that's time or money. As apps have become a point of daily interaction for all of us nowadays, we as an audience have grown accustomed to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to apps and have ultimately grown increasingly more decisive in the apps we return to and engage with. This in turn has made it harder to cut through to users and has required app-marketing to come to the forefront, utilising not just the creative aspects of marketing but data-driven decision making to help drive retention and engagement.
Without strategies or tools to help implement this in the long run, both Meta’s ‘twitter killer’ and users creating apps through Builder.ai will ultimately struggle or fail to cut through to their target audiences.