If there's an app for everything there must be something wrong...

Originally published on April 2015 here

A couple weeks ago I had a nice videochat with Golden Krishna, author of the book The Best Interface is no Interface. It was great to connect with someone who is in a similar path as many of us are; trying to make people understand that UX is not UI and also giving solutions that can make people forget their obsession for screens and interfaces. 

This obsession with screens, interfaces and apps (as Golden states “there’s an app for everything...”) plus some “successful*” startups are making us believe that all we need is an app. Some weeks ago I was interviewing some users regarding a food-related solution and one of the interviewees led to this dialog:

User: “it will have an app, right?”

Me: “should it have an app?”

User: “yes, it has to have one. Apps are really useful” 

Me: “do you use many of them? 

User: “yeah!"

Me: Can you show me those?"

User: “well, I only have one, and it’s because of my wife. But everything is an app these days"

So we are believing that everything is an app (or everything has to be digital). Many business schools are focusing on entrepreneurship (which I think it’s great!) but many of the solutions these venture labs are proposing are taking apps as the de facto solution instead of having clear answers to 1. What’s the problem we are solving? and 2. Why does this have to be an app?

I seriously hope, this bubble ends. Many of us are working on making technology more human, almost invisible. But many of us are also still too focused on the tech aspect instead of the human, perhaps more strategic one. I'm not saying that tech is not strategic, but some companies tend to start ONLY with technology to then ask what problems it would solve; as opposed to creating technology to solve people's problems. I think I need to mention Cedric Price's quote "Technology is the answer...but what was the question?"

What are your thoughts about this growing obsession with screens and apps?

* I mention “successful" with quotation marks as we have exposure mostly to those startups who got successful exits or crazy valuations. Those that make every corporation think “we need to work as a startup”. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get to see the tons of startups that fail and pivot or fail and die in their pursuit of success.