Social, messaging apps struggle with decision to 'bundle' or 'unbundle'

Some popular social media apps 'unbundle' features left and right, while other services stick to all-encompassing apps with a variety of functionality. Each strategy has its pros and cons, and each makes sense for different types — and different sizes — of companies.

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Big companies vs. startups

Even the smallest of companies need at least one full-time engineer for each individual app they create and for each mobile OS they support, according to Armstrong. For example, a company with two apps for iOS and Android needs at least four engineers or developers, and those salaries add up quickly, especially for small developers or startups. Armstrong says large companies sometimes unbundle services in an attempt to compete with popular niche players that do one thing well. 

Dobrowolski of Thirty Labs shares a similar outlook. "The startup space in the U.S. is thriving and small competitors are attempting to unbundle and distill larger companies' features. This causes the larger companies to want to reduce down their offering to keep the value proposition and interaction tightly focused."

[Related News: Top social media apps are serious data hogs]

Dobrowolski also suggests that unbundling reduces dependencies on development teams that, as companies increase in size, have to slow down to keep from breaking things.

"Unbundling your app allows you to also unbundle your teams and focus solely on their product," Dobrowolski says. "This reduces communication between teams and reduces development operations and deployment pressures. It may not be proven, but if it works, it would be ideal for moving faster."

So while it's unclear which way the bundling and unbundling trends will turn in the future, it's highly unlikely to end anytime soon. In other words, expect to see more bundling and unbundling.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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