Thoughts on Invisible Apps

I went to a meetup at Animoto last night with the topic: “Invisible Apps”.  This is a term popularized around the Product Hunt community and gaining major steam.

The concept is around no-interface, no-stack products where the service itself is the product. Scrappy startups can now spin up a service over sms, instagram, email, snapchat without any actual software. Regardless of what they do behind the scenes, they can provide it to users either:

1) in someone else’s platform (or one that’s pre-installed one their smartphone)

or

2) without an interface at all.

This is proving to be the ultimate MVP.

The amount of resources - technological and capital - needed to build a product is at an all-time low.  This illustrates a new level of that.  Saavy social marketers can build brands without spending a dime on advertising. Where messaging apps have proven to be a powerful app acquisition/discovery channel in much of Asia, sms (with its strongest foothold in US) is proving to be a place where products can actually exist entirely.

As our pocket super computers continue to get flooded with new, unbundled and ever more specific use-case apps, this is one path to consolidation.  Certainly one that addresses app fatigue: How many apps, folders, updates can you really deal with?

It will be interesting to see how far the no-stack app can scale.  It can and will, but the formula for doing so is yet to be seen.