The last two years have seen extreme fragmentation in apps. Take messaging apps for example. Just a small survey of all the Beagles Labs folks shows that we use an average of 4 messaging apps each. We use Google Hangouts for work messages. Most of us use a combination of iMessage and text messages to communicate with friends. In addition, we all use a combination of Whatsapp, Viber, Snapchat, Path Talk, Facebook Messenger, WeChat depending on our personal preferences.
Fred Wilson had a great post on this, where he writes that such fragmentation is here to stay, and will only increase over time.
Just in our own use, we see this type of fragmentation in several apps. Here's another example - we use these apps regularly for content sharing
- Buffer - To schedule our daily sharing on social media
- Pocket - To read articles later
- Mightybell - To share content in the company to different workgroups
- Evernote - Some of the folks use this for bookmarking
We live in an age of unparalleled personalization. Every one of us likes our own app for the specific 20% of the features that that app does differently than the other apps. Given how much time we spend with messaging, email, content. work flow management, scheduling and other functions on a daily basis, being able to do this last 20% efficiently is very important and the use of more fragmented apps for this will increase.
This also opens the door to a phenomenon that we internally like to call as "Disrupting the disruptor". Whatsapp disrupted text messaging with social messaging, and Snapchat is disrupting social messaging with messages that disappear. We think in order to disrupt the incumbent, any new app should do one function in one small niche very very well. The age of broad ranging functionalities for apps has been obliterated by super focused apps. This also gives the app a competitive moat protecting it from newer apps that have to find a new niche to wrestle into the space.
Does your app solve a highly focused niche problem, that a large number of people have? Answering that question honestly might be one of the first and most important steps to product market fit.