Twentieth Anniversary Lookback: Smartphones and Mobile Apps

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This year is Chariot Solutions’ twentieth anniversary. Two decades is a long time in tech and we have witnessed some seismic shifts in the landscape during that span.

It is amazing to consider that when we launched this business, there was no such thing as an iPhone or Android device. Apple had just introduced the iPod a year earlier in 2001 and its now famous smartphone was still five years away.

Of course, smartphones were technically a few years old by this point. IBM had introduced the first commercially available cellular phone with a touchscreen and email and fax capabilities in 1994. And in 2000, the first phone with an Internet connection became available.

But it was the iPhone launch in 2007 that defined the market and shaped our modern understanding of a smartphone. A year later, Android 1.0 was released, marking its entry into the smartphone market. The pace of innovation in mobile technology since that date has been astounding, and Chariot has been in the very thick of it ever since.


Everyone’s on Their Smartphone, All the Time

As of 2021, there were 298 million smartphone users in the United States, meaning that 85% of adults in this country have one of these devices. Even more staggering, we spend 263 minutes (or nearly 4.5 hours) on our phone each day doing something OTHER THAN A PHONE CALL!

A recent 2022 study by App Annie found that seven out of every ten minutes spent on our phones was used for social or photo & video apps. More specifically, Gen Z tended to skew towards photo & video apps; Millennials favored shopping, finance, and food & drink apps; and Gen X and Baby Boomers used their screen time to browse medical, news, and weather apps.

We’re still gauging the granular impact of the pandemic on smartphone use, but a casual observation would seem to indicate that it only increased our dependency on the devices as they became integral to a contactless society and new remote work standards. The smart money says that smartphone usage will likely continue to grow in the years ahead.


We spend 263 minutes (or nearly 4.5 hours) on our phone each day doing something other than a phone call.


Enterprise Mobile Apps

Just as the adoption cycle and usage patterns have accelerated over the last 15 years, so too have our insights and recommendations surrounding mobile app development. The very first iPhone came preloaded with apps developed by Apple. A year later in 2008, they began to invite third party developers to create apps for the App Store.

As you might expect, clients were not necessarily asking for mobile apps back in 2008, but we saw the writing on the wall. So, we dug in to learn as much as we could and began mocking up early test runs at app prototypes and strategy recommendations.

As developers, we regard the smartphone as a powerful combination of hardware and software (whether it operates on iOS or Android). Even then we knew that we would have to account for the opportunities and limitations inherent with each if we were to help clients devise strategies and deploy solutions within this new environment.

That early start proved prescient as mobile has become a foundational element of nearly every company’s business strategy. Thirty-seven (37) billion apps were installed in the first quarter of 2022 alone, with Instagram, TikTok and Facebook the three most popular.

During that same quarter, global spend through apps reached $33 billion, with TikTok, YouTube and Tinder taking the top three spots. Almost 73% of all ecommerce sales were completed on a mobile device last year, and 95% of Gen Z users do their banking on a mobile app.


Chariot’s Mobile App Development

As you can imagine, that shift in usage has impacted the type of mobile development work we’ve performed on behalf of clients. In the early days, Chariot’s enterprise clients were not creating mobile apps to connect with their customers, employees or vendors. Those initial projects were more marketing oriented, like the stand-alone application we created in partnership with an advertising agency for a pharmaceutical client to help parents administer the proper dosage of a medicine.

But as apps began to evolve, we used insights from our research and developing skill sets to work with clients to do more with their mobile strategy. This was timed with mobile apps becoming increasingly connected to databases and services, facilitating an organization’s shift from the desktop to mobile. We stepped in to drive that migration for clients and make apps more integrated, vital contributors to a company’s overall product offering.

A great example of this is the home automation space, which makes use of sensors, processors and other technology to connect devices and create some truly revolutionary offerings known as the Internet of Things. By helping clients build mobile apps for managing home automations early on, we mastered the art of front design to optimize user experience, the nuanced differences between Android and iOS ecosystems, and how to maximize budgets through smart technology purchase and design choices.


Read more about our smart home automation work with Lutron.


Today, Chariot has reached a level of proficiency in mobile where we can now help clients identify significant financial impact of architectural and technical decisions before a commitment is made. This is a direct result of the years working in various industries building server APIs and mobile applications. That experience has provided Chariot with knowledge of what technical decisions work well and what do not. This benefits our clients when making cost-conscious architectural decisions to better support the ever-changing mobile platforms.


Mobile’s Next Decade

In general, the increased sophistication of mobile apps has intersected with an exponentially larger number of mobile app use cases and people using apps, creating the perfect storm. We don’t expect this to abate any time soon as these trends will only grow in the coming months and years.

Looking ahead, we know there will be exciting new innovations in the mobile sector. As Lexi Sydow, the Head of Marketing Insights at App Annie, recently told ZDNet: “In the next five to ten years, mobile will… become an irreplaceable tool that acts as the control center to our daily lives from banking, shopping, entertainment, health, fitness, and more.”

We agree. And to keep pace, Chariot will continue to hire more mobile experts and expend our team’s repository of mobile knowledge. We are committed to serving as the mobile strategy and development lead for all our clients, regardless of the sector.

Personally, I am excited to see what the future holds for the mobile computer in my pocket. And to write the mobile update for our thirty-year anniversary!

How can we help advance your mobile efforts? Let’s talk. Contact us today.