From the Editor

Your “App”ortunity? 

By Wendy Mann 

Photo: Wendy Mann, Director, Communications

I just received an email from Apple letting me know that it is celebrating the 25 billionth app download. That’s crazy isn’t it? In such a short period of time, from 2008 to now, apps have risen to that level of popularity. What are all those apps that are being downloaded?

If you’ve read my column in the past, you know that my family is an “ifamily.” We have iPods, iPhones and iPads. We have a lot of “i” in our life. But apps are a whole different animal. I’m what you might call an “app-light” user. I have a few apps that I really like and find useful. For me, it’s about utility. For example, my banking app has become a go to place for me. I do most all of my banking online now, and rather than having to go to the Internet, bring up the bank’s site, and input my username and my pass code, I just “tap the app.” Having the banking app on my iPhone has made it much easier for me to quickly access my bank.

When I decided to run my first 5K last fall, one of my colleagues recommended the “Couch to 5K” app. I’ll tell you, it works! While I wasn’t really a “couch potato” as the app implies, I wasn’t a runner either. The app provided a great way to transition from walking to running over the span of eight weeks. It works in tandem with your music, so as you are walking/running and listening to music, a voice cuts in and says “now walk 5 minutes” or “now run for 5 minutes.” There is no need to track timing. The app does it all.

While I don’t play games on my iPhone, I know many folks who do. At a recent visit with an old college friend, her teenage daughter was appalled that I did not have Angry Birds on my phone. Honestly, I didn’t even know what it was. I let her download it to my phone, and she played it all weekend. Now, I have Angry Birds as a download, though I never use it. I have since learned that both adults and kids seem enamored of this game. One industry exec told me he uses Angry Birds to pass the time when waiting for a plane or a doctor’s appointment. The Words with Friends app also has grown in popularity. I know several NTCA staffers who engage with this app.

And speaking of gaming apps and the 25 billion downloads, you may have guessed that the top 10 downloads in the United States are all gaming apps. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an audience out there for service or community apps.

Rural telcos might want to consider creating apps for:

> Customer interface: Create an app that builds a relationship with your customer, and lets them access and manage their account with you anytime, anywhere.

> Business Customers: Your telco might become an app creator for your business customers, much like some of you provide website development services.

> Community focus: To build relationships and visibility, you might work with your local Rotary Club or Girl Scouts troop to create a co-branded app.

The time is now to be thinking of new ways to leverage your business and gain a foothold in this growing business segment. This issue’s cover story, “What’s That App?” gives you some industry perspective on what’s underway and ideas for the future.

A recent Wall Street Journal article featured a business leader saying, “If you’re not in the app business, get in it.” So what’s your “app”ortunity? Seek it out.


Wendy Mann is director of communications at NTCA. She can be reached at