Just over a year ago, Deloitte launched a report on the state of mobile branded apps. The result was pretty disheartening. Most branded apps were considered flops, as the report outlined that 80% of branded apps had been downloaded less than 1,000 times.

In fairness to the brands–many of them have just been experimenting with APps (testing & learning) during the initial App creation boom. Mobile spending is still only a tiny component of the marketing mix, so many of the apps launched over the past few years were just side projects and not really “strategic” for businesses. We’ve seen this cycle of euphoria and disillusionment play out before during the early days of microsites & social, etc., etc.

Luckily, forward thinking brands like Nike have shown us the potential of the branded App. As Nike has looked for new growth drivers over the past few years, it has leveraged technology to transform itself from a shoe product-focused company to a product & tech services company. The pioneering Nike+ jogging App played a key role in that journey.

 “AppCessories”

The widely successful Nike+ App has shown us that consumers are getting comfortable with using their smartphones to augment and interact with the real world. Indeed, apps will increasingly provide the interface (and glue) to a range of deliciously integrated products/services offered by brands going forward.

Just take a look at what is happening in the world of healthcare; head over to the App-Enabled accessories page on the Apple website. There, you’ll find App enabled iHealth blood pressure docks & body-tracking monitors, etc.

The next wave of innovation in the branded Apps space will be amazing…companies that find exciting ways to connect the digital/physical worlds together will capture consumer imagination and unlock business growth in this tough economic climate. And, brand apps will become more strategic and connected to larger branded ecosystems of value–not just one off side projects.

I’m pretty fired up about the possibilities…

Hat tip to Thomas Husson coining term App-cessories on Twitter.  Photo from the Apple website