Battle of app control

There’s more to apps on smartphones than just fascinating information, videos and games. At TU Delft a conference will show the science of apps, including a power
struggle between telecom operators, app and hardware providers.

For years mobile payment has been presented as a great promise to turn a smartphone into a bankcard, enabling micro payments for public transport. However, this hasn’t been introduced with success in most parts of the world. “Because there is a power struggle going on between telecom operators, banks and providers,” says chair of the conference, Harry Bouwman, associate professor at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. The different actors want to be in control yet at the same time one cannot do without the help of the others. “For example, Nokia, Samsung and Apple would love to offer mobile payment apps integrated in a mobile phone. This would put device manufacturers in control. The telecom operators strongly oppose this. They want people to use their network to make payments to create traffic, having insight in costumer data and controlling the financial float. This will reinforce their position. Banks want their apps and platforms to be used so that they can control behaviour.”

No one knows who will win this battle. “But it has already shown that different approaches could lead to success,” says assistant professor Mark de Reuver (TPM), who is part of the local organizing committee for the conference. “Google for example has a very open governance approach, whereas Apple uses a closed system. Both are very successful. Mobile business operates in a fast changing and dynamic world. Scientists therefore are currently developing new theories of these ecosystems that will be discussed during the conference.”

Bouwman and De Reuver will also present the outcome of a user study. In order to get to know how often what certain kinds of apps are used, a survey was conducted and also software installed to log user activity on 128 smartphones. “This was done for the first time. Interestingly enough it showed that results of the survey did not correspond with the results of the software. 62 per cent of the actual use of apps is different from what participants thought. It shows that there is still a lot to investigate and uncover regarding the science of apps.”

The 11th ICMB ‘Mobile Business in Everyday Life’ Conference will be held on June 21-22.

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