Opinion: The End of Cookie-Cutter Event Apps (or Why You Need a Premium 'Branded' Event App)

Several event technology vendors have recently made their case for the consolidation of their customer's events into a "universal app" with their branding in the app store. They claim that Apple now requires that event organizers use a vendor-branded app, which would include events from a multitude of other companies. While that would undoubtedly help competitors whose business model depends on a one-size-fits-all mobile platform (i.e. a cookie-cutter app), it would hardly be good news for those event organizers who want to deliver a branded, differentiated experience to their attendees (i.e. a premium branded app). 

Fortunately, Apple has not made any such announcement. Our team spoke to Apple for clarification and a senior executive at their Worldwide Developer Relations Team was quick to dismiss the notion. He confirmed to us that Apple did recently announce updates to its App Store Review Guidelines to include a new clause within section 4.2 "Minimum Functionality," which states, "Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected." He said that this had always been part of Apple's internal guidelines and was designed to address the situation where "someone produces 10,000 slot machine apps that are identical except for changing what pictures appear on the wheel." Needless to say, it is a huge jump from announcing a guideline designed to eliminate cookie-cutter apps, to concluding that Apple is "forcing" event organizers into a vendor-branded "universal app."

We believe this new guideline places some event technology vendors in a tough spot. If their apps are currently being rejected, or going to be rejected, because they are cookie-cutter, then the "universal app" is their only option. We believe this stance truly indicates how disconnected these vendors are from the needs of premium brands.

To give you an example of what they are supporting, they believe that a company like Nike will agree to post their events in a vendor-branded event app, which would show up on the App Store without a Nike logo; after opening their generic event app, the Nike events would be listed beside events from hundreds of other companies including, potentially, competitors like Adidas and Reebok. Maybe one of these competitors paid that vendor to promote its events over Nike's, so their events show up first. Event app vendors who do this will profit from advertising and could use your attendee data and usage statistics to market competitor's products and services. 

Is this something your organization would agree to? Not a chance.  

At Eventbase, we provide feature rich, highly engaging, and innovative fully-branded apps for your events. Some call these white-labeled; we prefer premium-labeled or brand-immersed event apps. As an example, we produce a single branded IBM Events App that contains many large and small IBM events and enables marketing at IBM to promote a single app that they know is in brand, scalable, and secure. Eventbase can support a company's top tier events as well as its smallest events within a single branded app, ultimately bringing in the power of centralized analytics and journeys. 

We have already received confirmation from Apple that they will continue to support unique and high-end mobile apps.

Although others in the market may start to back pedal, this strategy reduces their cost, but at the cost of your brand. It is a vision that falls well short of the needs of enterprises and misses the mark for large events and premium brands.

Jeff Sinclair is the co-founder & CEO of Eventbase, a mobile event technology platform for global brands.