100 luxury brands, five years, and 238 apps. Sounds pretty impressive until you take a closer look, as we did in our new Intelligence Report: Mobile.  With an average 17 months on the shelf, these 238 Fashion, Beauty, Hospitality, Watches & Jewelry and Retail apps are for the most part digitally stale. It’s hard to understand, given the considerable cost involved in developing an app, how 27 percent of luxury brands could launch one and then never bother to update it. Not to fix bugs, not to course-correct any features, not to integrate new, more efficient technology, not even to implement changes based on user feedback. With mobile apps up 85 percent YOY and now boasting 101.8 million users who spend 129.4 billion minutes per month on them, the audience for this platform is enormous–and only growing bigger.


In the past year, the 100 brands reviewed in our mobile report introduced 94 new apps for the iOS platform (including Prada, Tory Burch and De Beers) and eliminated 52 (including Clinique, Diane von Furstenberg and Harry Winston). This seeming lack of strategy isn’t entirely surprising for an industry that on the whole hasn’t quite figured out how to maximize app performance and utility. Where there is some good news, however, is in the Apple-optimized realm, where app development has soared. Over the last 12 months, more than half of all new apps are iPhone/iPad-optimized.


Below, a breakdown by luxury vertical of app penetration between 2008 and 2013 (click for greater detail):


Beauty: 58 percent of American beauty brands’ apps were targeted specifically for Asia Pacific markets.


Watches & Jewelry: 89 percent of these brands have an iPad-optimized app, the most of all the luxury verticals.


Fashion: these brands are most likely of all luxury verticals to release an app and never update it (40 percent).


Hospitality: the most prolific of all luxury brands in the app space, 45 percent of the hotel industry have developed apps in the past past year–efforts spearheaded by property-specific app launches.


Retail: these brands release fewer but better apps and update them regularly with improved functionality, often incited by useful user feedback.


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