Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The rise of the disposable app: developers target meetings, conventions, trade shows for mobile apps; Gather Digital launches a series of new apps for meetings

The way most publishers think about app development is that it takes time to create a great app, and once created it has to be built to last. But sometimes what one needs is a mobile or tablet app to serve as a guide to a trade show or meeting, or for a special occasion such as a reunion. These are, in essence, disposable apps: apps that will be perfectly useful for a limited time and then may be deleted from the device (or updated at a later time).

Recently TNN posted a look at the show daily produced for the NAB Show created by New Bay Media. But the use of mobile apps created for trade shows goes back much farther. In 2010 TNM talked about the mobile apps built by Core-Apps for the FMI show, sponsored Penton Media's Supermarket News.
Yesterday several new app appeared in the News category in the App Store from the North Carolina company Gather Digital. These apps are for a number of clients and for a variety of purposes.

I found at least three new apps, but there may be more as they are hard to locate because they are appearing under the client's name rather than the developers. This is the way to do it, though it does complicate find the apps inside the App Store if you are more interested in the developer than if you are the apps themselves.

Columbia University, for instance, has issued an app for Commencement Week 2012 which starts on May 13.

Drager Medical has a new app, as well, for a sales training conference it will hold soon: IACSDots2012.

And finally, I found a new app for an upcoming event in San Francisco: the PharmaSUG 2012 Annual Conference Program APP will allow downloaders to view abstracts for nearly 200 papers and workshops associated with the annual conference.

B2B media companies with their own trade show divisions can either use their event divisions as an excuse to create their own app development teams, or else outsource this to companies such as Gather Digital or Core-Apps. More and more, the App Store is being filled with these temporary or disposable apps that are becoming a more common way for events to distribute information, and soon attendees will be expecting that they will be able to register and get information on these events through their mobile and tablet devices.

One obstacle to these apps, of course, is distribution: the App Store is a pretty crazy place, and I know Apple is working hard to address this. One program Apple has created is the Volume Purchasing Program for business. I have no experience with the program but it may prove a helpful way to get these apps to their intended users.