As discussed in the Co.CREATE article “The Age of Mobile Creativity: Are We There Yet?”, mobile apps and ads are starting to be considered as legitimate canvases for artistic expression; for the first time, the Cannes Festival has developed a Lion award category for mobile media. This shift to viewing mobile work as potential artwork is certainly culturally appropriate, but it may be an honor given too early to be appreciated by a financially constrained mobile market. Revenue for mobile ads in 2011 came out to 1.6 billion; while this sounds impressive, it’s a mere fraction of the profit garnered by search ads ($14.8 billion) or display ads ($11.1 billion). Because so much of the market depends upon the money provided by ads, creators have little financial capital left with which to develop new, innovative concepts for mobile apps.
Fortunately, a lack of money hasn’t stopped these developers from thinking about what they want to produce and what they think will make an app succeed. According to some of the creative minds of mobile production, award-winning apps are not the ones that are visually striking or otherwise traditionally artistic; rather, they’re the apps that use the capabilities of mobile technology to provide users with new paths for social connection. As one of the mobile-using masses, I have to agree, especially when it comes to mobile games. When I want to have some fun with my mobile device, my favorite apps to pull out are the ones that allow me to play and interact with other people, like “Words with Friends” or “Draw Something.” The social component that games like these provide really enhances the mobile gaming experience!
Although the financial aspect to mobile creativity constraint is a legitimate one, some would claim that the biggest roadblock currently standing in the path of innovative mobile app development is the difficulty of providing a consistently positive experience over different brands and types of mobile device; few companies can lay claim to the resources necessary for app functionality across all platforms. Still, this is only the beginning for this outlet of expression; with time, it could very well become an artistic medium that redefines the connections between art, technology, and social media.