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Why the path to social success means going mobile first

by Kristen Nicole

It isn’t every day an Android and iOS app gets scooped up by Facebook for $1 billion. Instagram’s success story is an inspiring one, and it proves once and for all that mobile apps play a major role in today’s technology tale. But Instagram is not the only mobile app to become more than just a mobile app. There are other success stories of popular networks and services that probably wouldn’t have made it big without a mobile app first. Here are some of Android’s finest.

Instagram

With just two years on the market and a $1 billion price tag, Instagram is one of the most popular mobile apps of all time. They only recently came to Android, but the 1 million users that downloaded the Instagram app in the first 24 hours prove it was a hit even before the Google Play launch. Snapping photos and adding retro effects has become a treasured pastime for mobile users of all sorts, building a network of 30 million photographers around the world. It wouldn’t have happened without smartphones, as Instagram turns our digital snapshots into little pieces of nostalgia.

Path

Like mobile blogging but want to keep things low key? Path emerged as an alternative to the public platforms that Facebook and Twitter have become, offering private networks to share updates, music, photos and check-ins with select groups of people. With a new design, automated records and even sleep tracking, Path continues to build its feature set and user base.

Shazam

Shazam was around before Google Play came onto the scene, but it was the mobile app that helped the company grow to become a household name. Identifying songs almost instantaneously, whether on the radio or via our own humming, Shazam is a great example of how useful a mobile app can be in the real world. Shazam’s features have grown to include links for MP3 purchases, lyrics, videos and social network sharing, as well as TV tagging, concert updates and geotags.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a social network that was made for mobile. With its Android app you can check-in to a location, earn badges, score discounts and read reviews from others who have checked-in as well. With photo-sharing, comments and social network integration, Foursquare is a great way to tell people where you are, and also a great tool for discovering new places around you. It wouldn’t have been possible without mobile’s real-time presence and connectivity.

Not all popular apps on mobile platforms are social though. Some achieved a huge amount of coverage and success by being the first and best at what they do, whether mobile games or video companies that get snapped up by major players.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds is arguably the most successful mobile game in history. Its physics-based levels and colorful design make for hours of challenging entertainment, and Rovio translated its mobile success into a well-branded franchise. Try stepping into any Walmart today without seeing Angry Birds plush toys and T-shirts, not to mention their full-length animated film and promo deals for candy, food and beverages. Who knew a mobile app could find such offline success?

Qik Video

Qik was a great tool long before smartphones came along, but their early entry into Google Play set them apart as one of the first video chat and broadcasting tools. They were able to develop an Android app that rivaled similar services on iOS, even surpassing certain iOS features due to Android’s open design. Qik only grew in popularity with its strong mobile presence, eventually catching Skype’s eye. The desktop chat tool acquired Qik over a year ago for its mobile technology, helping Skype boost its own Android efforts as well.

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