Social media and mobile apps seem to be the new buzz words over at Silicon Valley. In fact, such apps are now a dime a dozen and one could imagine Apple changing their popular catchphrase “There’s an app for that!” into “There are a thousand different apps for that, all of which have the same basic features, but subtle useless differences.”

The problem isn’t that we are approaching the boundaries of utility as far as mobile apps are concerned, it’s just that once an app or social service gets popular, developers start crowding around its concept and make thousands of clone apps, with little in terms of differentiation. We need more unique and original apps that stretch the boundaries of what we can accomplish with our phones and tablets and make you think “Wow! Who would have thought I could do that with this little thing I carry around with me?!” What we’re getting are the same basic concepts, re-hashed to such an insane degree that app stores get crowded with half-baked clone apps and the really amazing ones are drowned out in a sea of filth.

In my opinion, developers should ask themselves three basic questions before designing an app or a social service:
“Has this been done before?”

“If it has, can I do it in a way that is better/more pleasant to use?”

The new Twitter mobile web experience

Too many apps to choose from

“If no, would I be able to introduce any sort of useful feature except a wacky name?”

And if the answers to all three questions are unfavourable, then the developer should think twice about coding such an app. It would only add redundancy to the app store and contribute to the rising app discovery epidemic.

I shudder to think about all the high quality apps made by independent developers all over the world that haven’t been popularized simply because of an overly saturated market. The amount of lost potential in app markets today is simply staggering.

Apart from market saturation, redundant apps also tend to cause mental saturation. In this day and age, who among us has the capacity to remember a billion app names? If we can’t even remember such a numerous volume of apps, how can we aspire to use them?

In my opinion, authorities like Apple and Google should monitor the apps in their stores not just for quality, but for identity of vision as well. Apps that feel like cheap copies of pre-existing apps need to be banned! I, for one have had enough of my normal friends playing ruddy Fruit Ninja clones and asking me why it doesn’t look as good as it does on my phone!

There are shining examples of how stupendously done apps with a clear and fresh vision can go viral within days of conception. They are the intellectual property of individuals that have worked hard to develop not just the code for their apps, but the core concept as well. And we owe it to those striving developers to make sure that the integrity of that core concept remains preserved.

You can connect with Harshit Passi on Twitter @hrshtpassi

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