App Constellations

Fred Wilson on the growing trend of companies producing more than one mobile application, each that expose different sets of features from the same service:

I have been calling this trend App Constellations. Facebook now has a collection of mobile apps that share a single login and have app to app linking built in. Google has a collection of mobile apps that share a single login and have app to app linking built in. Twitter seems headed in this direction with Vine. And Dropbox also seems headed in this direction too. Now we can add Foursquare to this group.

Putting a ton of functionality into a single app is not the right way to do it on mobile. Having a constellation of mobile apps that all work tightly with each other seems to be the better way. And the leading mobile app companies are all headed in that direction now. Pay attention to this trend.

He followed this up with a post with further evidence in that Dropbox also has a suite of applications — one for each of its services. He’s right, of course, that more and more companies have more than one mobile application.

However, comparing each company’s mobile app strategy is sort of like comparing Apples and Googles. Facebook and Foursquare have a few applications that do similar things while Google and Twitter have apps for each service they provide.

Both strategies still fit the constellation analogy in that each of them can still be connected. For instance, sending data from Google’s Spreadsheet app to it’s Docs app. Or, opening a Foursquare location from within Swarm to see more information about the venue. Connected apps into an App Constellation.

For Foursquare and Facebook, though, I think we will see one of each of their apps win and one app lose. Will Paper and Swarm win against their predecessors? We’ll see. But if they do I think the other apps will slowly go away.