The release of apps focused on museum has done in Spain between 2011 and 2012. However, it has been quite powerful. The social impact of this sort of apps depends on the own museum. These apps represent only a tiny percent of the mobile app market in Spain (we have found 30 apps). Thus, it is neither a saturated market nor a mature market in regard to format and content. If we consider the statistics of the museums, we can affirm that the percentage of museums with official or unofficial app is less than 2 percent.
Some apps come close to model of institution directory, which means these apps only offer general information about a determined set of museums. From the point of view of content, the app from the Red de Museos de Navarra “Navarrese network of museums” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpMhOrvff4Y) or Museos y Centros de Arte Contemporáneo en España “Museums and Centres of Contemporary Art in Spain” edited by EXIT (http://itunes.apple.com/es/app/museos-y-centros-arte-contemporaneo/id496810709) are two good examples. Nonetheless, we have to worry about app size because it’s important for the success of apps (The directory of contemporary art museums has more than 50 Mb, excessive size for a mobile app which is tied to be consulted and downloaded only on tablets whose storage is limited).
There are “ephemeral” apps of support for particular exhibitions or activities. There are few cases in this typology. For example, we know the augmented reality app of the exhibition “Mar de Fons” in Mataró Museum (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=museumataro3.alteroids) or the Fabvolution catalog app of the exhibition “Full Print3d” in DHUB (https://itunes.apple.com/es/app/fabvolution/id530431148?mt=8).
It seems like the most of apps would want to replace the traditional guides and audioguides. This aim may be too complicated to achieve if all the content from guides is incorporated into apps. Because that makes the size exceeds 50 Mb (which affects downloads for end users). Apps based on guides try to assist visitors for exhibitions with information about museum’s works (usually an outstanding selection from the whole collection), general information, history, etc.
There are a few apps that go beyond and explore the enormous possibilities from mobile: recommended route, urban route, notable pieces outside the museum, social content, RSS, exploitation technologies through mobile (NFC or QR). In this case, we know the app from the Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rsbmedia.mnactec ; for Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/es/app/mnactec/id492561446?mt=8) or the route proposed by the Fundació Joan Miró through Barcelona for sightseeing of what is related to the painter.
The state of the art doesn’t change much in the museum app industry in Spain but the market continues to grow. So, we are not afraid to assert that the growth and maturation of this field will be doing well throughout the year 2013.
Gustavo Villazán | Project Coordinator