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Personalized App Recommendations with Sidebar Karishma Sundaram | , 10:41 a.m. Nov. 27, 2009 2009-11-27

Personalization and customization is the key to staying ahead in the industry, especially if the industry in question happens to be the cell phone industry. 

Starting from school, everyone wants to fit it, yet maintain that subtle difference that makes them an individual. Let’s face it, most people carry forward that need to stand out even as adults, albeit not always consciously. Phones are a great way of standing out without, say, dying one’s hair neon colours or other equally dramatic ways to make a statement.

Personalization starts out with the kind of mobile that has been purchased, and moves up gradually with special ringtones, possibly wallpapers and themes. There was a fad for decorative panels for phones that have interchangeable ones. The emphasis was on making the phone a highly personalized object, and psychologically linking one’s identity to the device. 

Fast forwarding to today, the range of mobile phones currently available in the market is enough to satiate the individuality of everyone around. And the proliferation of phones has led to an explosive number of mobile apps. There are apps for every imaginable, and sometimes unimaginable, purpose. There are games, productivity tools, mail clients, location-based apps and many more; and that is merely the tip of the iceberg. In short, it is very easy to get mired in that particular morass. 

Sidebar has a solution that appealed to us considerably. It is an app, which recommends other apps. While that may sound like a recipe for an unending loop and subsequent disaster, the premise is actually very viable. 

Sidebar, once downloaded and installed, asks the user a few demographic questions. These questions are along the lines of age, sex, location, while also encompassing other factors like hobbies, interests, activities, among other things. Based on the information collected, a virtual profile of the user is created and the app searches for apps that the user might find interesting or useful. 

These recommendations are displayed within the Sidebar app in the form of a list. So as not to overwhelm the user, the app only shows a list comprising of 12 apps. The listing includes a short description, an accompanying picture and perhaps the price, if applicable. The user then has a choice of whether or not to save the recommendation to action later, or to ignore the recommendation. The listing changes every 24 hours, with a new set of 12 apps served up for consideration. 

The concept is not new, but Sidebar is the only mobile app that performs a service of this nature. The company has just released their first version of the application, which has been designed for the Android platform. While Android currently has very limited apps to actually sift through, this situation is likely to change soon. The next roll-out will be for BlackBerry phones and obviously for the iPhone. Any app that can sift through the App Store will be truly awe-inspiring. 

To find out more about the Sidebar app, and to download it for free, visit the company website here.

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