I installed – like a few thousand others – the LinkedIn app on my ipad a few weeks back. The first thing the app did after installation was grab data from the native contact and calendar app that exists on the device. Quite natural – LinkedIn is all about connections so it was normal for it to start chasing apps that provide productivity help on that social intent. But then, Mr. LinkedIn app, if you are so smart, why don’t you chase the Twitter app as well? Or for that matter the imessenger app?
Therein lies the accessibility hierarchy of apps. There are apps that come bundled with operating systems – these are nascent to the device and does not have much content until you start using them. These are tools. Browser, Email client, Contact management, phone/calls management are apps that most devices come with. That these are OS level programs, another app that runs on the same OS possibly has the hooks to start romantic relationships with these. But not so with other apps that are “outside” of the OS bundle (Funny that in the Indian context this might be looked upon as trying to forge a relationship outside one’s caste or religion – a matter that has received enormous attention of late). However there are apps that can enormously benefit from such associations. Imagine you have a market data app on your mobile device on which you consume news, monitor stock prices and capital markets movements (and I surely can recommend you the best in that category – MarketBoard. Full disclosure: I work for Thomson Reuters!). And on the other side, you have your colleagues, clients, prospects and a vast people-ecosystem sitting in your LinkedIn app. If these two apps could speak with each other then the market data app could automatically mark up those stories that are hot with your LinkedIn connections, making it easier for you to stay informed with relevant news. The social app would benefit from a crowd recommended information engine rather than merely show what my immediate connections are sharing
Making apps work with each other requires effort to create alliances and partnerships that go beyond just understanding of operating systems. Alliances are by nature unstable – they are political in nature and power shifts continually between the partners. But I suspect – rather hope – there will be a few pioneers who will come up with ideas, which if successful could make in-device-intra-app cooperation more natural than it currently is
By the way, I am sure there is a possibility to have Talking Tom integrate with your LinkedIn app and do naughty stuff with your boss, but I haven’t quite nailed the use cases as yet