I love mobile apps, which is a good thing since a big part of my job is reviewing them. But there are apps I see that make me ask, "Why is this an app at all?"
Case in point: Credit Sesame. This service is the Mint of debt. The Web site will tell you what you owe and how you can reduce your monthly payments (usually by signing up for new mortgages or credit cards). It also gives you your Experian "National Equivalency" credit score, which, I'm told, is a score that "lenders are approved to use for commercial uses and it gives a very close approximation of your FICO score and range."
As a Web service, I really like Credit Sesame. It is fast to set up and the data it provides is very useful. The value-to-effort ratio is strongly positive, which is more than I can say for a lot of other online financial sites.
But now it's also an app. It's pretty good from a technical perspective. It does what the Web site does, it has a nice interface, and it's fast. But I'm not sure I get why I need Credit Sesame in app form. While it's important to know where you stand in the world of debt, is this a function you need on your phone so you can check it all the time? There are other mobile apps that give you more comprehensive looks at your cashflow that might be useful when you're say, about to buy a new TV at the big box store. But your credit data doesn't change that frequently.
So I'm supposed to take up phone memory and an icon slot for what is, really, a Web service? I'd understand it if the data was inherently mobile or something I needed when on the move (like TripIt, for example), but I don't get it here. This app, I hate to say, should really just be a mobile Web site.
Except, no, not really. The mobile Web is still clunky to navigate, even on a good Android or Apple smartphone. Apps work better.
Marketers also know full well that hoping users will set up Web bookmarks for their sites is a losing game. Give 'em an icon that's staring them in the face if you want repeat visitors. Furthermore, there's no universal App Store of Web sites. The iOS, OS X, and Android stores drive a ton of sales on their platforms, enough to make the 30%-standard app store fee worthwhile for paid apps. (Credit Sesame is free.)
So we are stuck with apps that don't need to be apps. Not because they deserve to be, or even because they work better than mobile sites, but because today, if you want consumers to bookmark your Web site, you're really just better off making the site into an app.