Yesterday we discussed mobile strategy and specifically if the simplicity of a single-purpose app is the wave of the future. Now referred to as the “great unbundling,” apps like Foursquare, Square, and Facebook are diverging their app offerings into standalone apps for a more streamlined customer experience. As companies and capabilities grow, specialization is becoming a common theme. But is specialization always the best mobile strategy?

Unbundling is Not the Cure–All

There are severe risks with breaking apps apart, particularly losing your audience. Slicing offerings into different apps can cut up the user base while jumping in an already competitive landscape. With so many apps available in the app store, it is riskier for say, Evernote, to push users to a separate Evernote app for PDF scanning when users can find a multitude of higher ranked PDF Scanner apps in the app store. Business Insider advocates that Twitter could streamline their app into 14 different apps with functions like “customer service and breaking news app,” but what is the motivation for accessing a single–feature Twitter news app when most already have Top News apps installed on their devices?

An Exhausting Jump

Multiple apps can divert attention and consequently increase drop off rates. Jumping between Facebook and Facebook messenger can be an exhausting and disconnecting experience. In unbundling’s effort to streamline, there lies a complex problem of confusing the audience and increasing the time and steps involved in completing a given task.

The winners and losers in traditional

Hertz and Hertz24/7 are seemingly identical apps that have failed to educate consumers of their separate functionality. Users are coming to the app for one thing only, to rent a car. Time of car rental is not enough of a determinant to make users switch between applications when the mission of Hertz is singular (to rent cars). Instead, Hertz would be better suited having an option for hourly car rentals within the one umbrella app, similar to how Uber users can navigate between UberTaxi and UberX. Alternatively, the airlines have nailed multi-purpose apps largely in part because they understand the customer journey. Delta’s app is a favorite of the Centric Digital team because you can do everything required while on the go within one application. Booking a flight, checking flight time and locating your boarding pass are all efficient under one scope. Most airlines understand the initial mission of the brand and consolidate the attention of their users for greater ease of use.

Defining Mobile Strategy

As mentioned in our single-purpose app post, the risk of losing audience is best minimized by strategically defining your audience and thinking critically through mobile strategy. Knowing why and how customers utilize an app is the key to design. Analyze the customer journey and your industry. Tumblr opted to redesign their new editing- on- the- fly offering, rather than spin off into other apps. Uber has incorporated Rush into its’ umbrella. If the experience can be well designed with an eye for simplicity, there is no reason why an app needs to be split by functionality.