By Lawrence Coburn
Two tech providers debate the
future of event apps
Coming out of its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple an- nounced sweeping changes to how it
will manage its App Store; changes that will
profoundly impact how live events deploy
mobile event technology.
Here is the net: Apple is now pushing
mobile event app vendors away from the
White Label Event App model towards a
Slack- or Gmail-like model: a single, secure,
vendor-branded app that lives in the App
Store containing all of the accounts and event
instances within a single app (we’ll call this
the “Universal App” model).
In effect, Apple has just killed the White
Label Event App.
So what does this mean for the industry?
Here is my take after years of reflection
and taking a clear-eyed look at the limitations of the White Label Event App model:
The death of the White Label Event App is a
much-needed change that only Apple could
force, and one that will benefit event attendees, event owners, and the best event technology vendors.
What We Know
Here is what we know, based on several con-
The End of the Beginning
versations with a worldwide developer rela-
tions leader from Apple (Note: This reflects
our best effort to accurately relay informa-
tion from our conversations with Apple, but
should not be taken as an official Apple state-
ment.): Apple is requiring event app vendors
to move to a Universal App model, in which
all accounts and events would exist within
a single, vendor-branded, container app;
Apple’s App Store guideline changes are be-
ing pushed from the highest levels of Apple.
This change will impact many verticals and
industries in which white-label vendors have
emerged, not just conference apps. Apple has
no plans to remove existing event apps from
the store. But there will be a date that Apple
blocks updates to existing apps, as well as
blocks new, White Label Event Apps.
If you have a White Label Event App in the
App Store already, it will likely be able to live
on indefinitely (but without the ability to up-
date to future versions beyond a date TBD).
I am convinced that the move towards a
Universal App is the most exciting development for event tech since the iPhone itself.
The move to a Universal App model will
enable powerful functionality that simply
wasn’t possible in a siloed White Label App
Model: functionality that has to do with
persistent networks and messaging, deep customization and personalization options, and
improved security and authentication. Again,
Slack or Gmail are the perfect models for
what is possible here: deeply customized and
secure experiences within a single app.
DoubleDutch has been preparing for this
moment for a while now and has many exciting product announcements coming soon.
And before we mourn the loss of custom
app icons, remember this: Modern marketing has never been about customizing an app
icon or app name. It’s about delivering mass
personalization by listening to behavioral
signals and responding appropriately. In the
world of events, we call this Live Engagement
Marketing, and the principles of LEM will
only be strengthened by the higher adoption
of a Universal App world.
Will events go back to paper? Commission
a custom and expensive app for every event?
Perhaps in some cases. But the Universal App
will be the path for most modern event owners and designers that deliver event programs
at scale. It’s the end of the beginning. Buckle
up, the next six months will be exciting. n
Lawrence Coburn is CEO of DoubleDutch, a provider of live engagement marketing solutions.
Giant Step Forward