posted by Brian Johnson
2020. It’s just around the corner, ringing in the new decade.
At the beginning of the decade, President Obama was halfway through his first term and signed the Affordable Care Act into law. The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, opened to the public. Apple released the first iPad. Kesha’s Tik Tok ruled the Billboard charts and Toy Story 3 dominated the box office.
Wait, have I aged 30 years this decade?
And how about our phones? Back in 2010 I had a Motorola Razr. Today, I can listen to music, browse the web, book a hotel, take part in an online VR game, and transfer money all within a minute or two.
It raises the question, what are the most important apps of the decade?
For my personal life, that would be the Spider Solitaire app, but honestly I like the simple things in life. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s revolutionary. So below are the Top 10 most game-changing apps of the last decade.10. Tinder
The way young people look at relationships and dating has completely changed from even 10 years ago. Online dating, once stigmatized as a lonesome romantic’s desperate last-ditch effort, now has millions swiping for love thanks to Tinder. Tinder has completely digitized dating. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and there are many apps that have copied Tinder’s model, such as Grindr, Hinge, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, among others.9. Mobile Banking Apps
Today, these apps are capable of so much—check deposits, money transfers, investment options, and so on and so forth. While it’s challenging to determine which specific bank app has impacted the 2010s the most, it’s abundantly clear that the rise of the mobile bank has had an effect, sometimes devastatingly, to the banking industry. Physical bank storefronts are becoming less relevant when you can do just about everything on your phone.8. Candy Crush
Sure, I mentioned my adoration for the Spider Solitaire app above and said that games aren’t changing lives, but Candy Crush is different. Candy Crush was, and is, a phenomenon. The game is addictive and generates incredible revenue for a game that is free to play. King, the company behind the game, has cashed in on the mobile game market by charging for add-ons and extra lives. One of the first games to pursue this revenue avenue and has done so impeccably, while also opening the floodgates to similar free games like Fortnite.7. Apple Health
Health apps have become increasingly popular since their launch near the beginning of the decade. It’s really quite impressive just how many aspects of our lives can be digitized. One of the trends of the apps we’ve found to have such large impacts are ones that have found a way to digitize an industry. And somehow, our healthcare even found its way into the digital atmosphere. While it hasn’t exactly made doctors and hospitals irrelevant, it certainly has made tracking your own healthcare easier.6. Pokemon Go!
Maybe what this app represents is more intrepid in our lives than the actual app itself. Pokemon Go was absolutely a force to be reckoned with. At its height of popularity, hoards of teens would be out and about, heads down, playing the game. I think it’s great that it got kids out exercising, personally. What I didn’t love was kids swarming public spaces not looking where they’re going.
But Pokemon Go was apps’ first foray into the augmented reality world. It symbolizes where apps are going, what power they truly can have, as well as the cultural impact that apps can create.5. Venmo
You know you’ve made it when your name is used as a verb. “Let me Google it” is a lot more common than “one sec, I’ll Bing it.” If I said that to my buddies, they would look at me as if I were insane. Well, I guess they look at me like that anyway...
But “I’ll venmo you” is the new way to pay someone back. The digitization of money is not necessarily exclusive to bitcoin and the like. Venmoing someone for the AirBnB you just booked has completely simplified paying back your friends and family. I haven’t carried cash consistently in years because I pay with a credit card or I’ll just venmo someone.4. AirBnB
AirBnB has completely upended the travel sector. By leaning into the experiences that millennials want, AirBnB has been capable of transforming the whole industry. The company provides an opportunity to stay in a residential neighborhood as if you were really living in that city instead of a hotel in the “touristy” part of the town. They’ve been a serious challenger to hotels and millennials are loving AirBnB experiences so much, they’ve begun offering excursions, full-fledged tours, and animal experiences to further their local, authentic feel.3. Whatsapp
While technically Whatsapp came out in November of 2009, it’s too important to not include on the list. The app, more common in Europe and outside of the Americas where data is at times more expensive, has completely digitized the telco space. Making it possible to call and text over WiFi instead of paying high rates from service providers, Whatsapp has taken the telco world by storm and revolutionized the way people communicate cheaply.2. Spotify
It’s hard to think of an app that has been as game-changing to an industry as Spotify. 217 million monthly active users has changed how music consumption is perceived. Many listeners don’t pay for the paid-version of the app and instead listen to ads instead, opting to stream music for free. Artists complain they aren’t fairly compensated for their work. Revenue generation in the music industry is now more focused on touring than actual album releases. But after it all, consumers still love Spotify and music streaming and the industry has been forced to pivot.1. Instagram
And how Spotify has been able to change everything about music, Instagram has been able to entire lives. Lives now exist digitally on Instagram. While Facebook was the social media of the 2000s, Instagram is the dominant force in the 2010s. Instagram has changed how people manage businesses. Restaurants will light their dining areas for Instagram instead of the food or atmosphere. Shops will hire artists to paint Instagrammable murals on the side of the building to draw people in. Instagram has managed a digital transformation in people’s lives—their motivations, their spending habits, their hobbies, you name it. Being an Instagram influencer is the new model. Every moment has been able to be captured and shared through the new dominant medium.
It’s interesting to see the trend that the most game changing apps of the decade have all been a digitization of people’s lives. Health, music, finances, a fleeting moment. All have become digital.
How can brands stay up to date and relevant in this world? They’ll have to follow suit themselves. It’s time to go digital.
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