When it comes to mobile apps, one thing is for certain: in recent years, they’ve really taken off! Very few people who have mobile phones or tablet computers are unaware of the importance of the app to the functioning and value of a smartphone. But even fewer position apps in their important cultural contexts. This article will look at some app genres as diverse as gambling apps to social media ones, and attempt to answer questions about why certain apps are popular in certain jurisdictions and points in time due to underlying cultural trends. 


Gambling and gaming

Since the striking down of the federal law which banned sports betting, the rise in popularity of offers including a Borgata online promo code has gone to show how popular betting has become. But the rise in the sort of apps which offer gambling opportunities is a new phenomenon in America, and an indicator of how the range of apps available are an effect of cultural trends – not just a cause of them.

This is especially true in comparison to other major Western economies, especially those in which 

Britain, for example, has had gambling apps for many years now – and that’s down in large part to the cultural place which gambling occupies in the British psyche. Betting on the outcome of Premier League football games is common practice for fans, and a walk down a British high street will reveal many “betting shops” in which wagers can be bought and placed just like any other product. 

As the rise in gambling continues in the US in the post-PASPA era, it’s highly likely that this sort of proliferation will occur at least in the digital world in the years to come. While the cultural decline in the important of Main Street to American economies is unlikely to lead to the opening of many betting stores, it’s certainly likely that gambling apps will embed themselves in the national psyche in one way or another. 

Social media

Social media is another largely app-based phenomenon, and many people access platforms like Twitter through their mobile applications rather than on a web browser or other similar device. The blame for many social and cultural ills is often laid at the door of social media sites, and it’s easy to see why. 

Social media services such as Facebook and Instagram allow people to create their own stories about their lives and then star in them using photos, text and video. This is nothing new: in fact, it can be traced back to artist Andy Warhol’s supposed 1968 claim that in the future, everyone will have their “fifteen minutes of fame”.

It can also be linked to cultural trends which are more recent, such as the arrival of shows like those of Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey that heralded an age in which the telling of personal stories was culturally accepted and promoted. So next time someone claims to you that social media apps are the cause of all kinds of problems, don’t forget to remind that they’re also a consequence of prior cultural changes. 


News and weather

Many people also use their phone’s apps to find out the latest information on news and weather. What this means is that information is much more instantly available than it was, say, 50 years ago – and people now find out major slices of information moments after they happen through news alerts and notifications. But this is not new, either.

Just ten years ago or so, the same was being said about 24-hour rolling news channels on cable – and, indeed, many of the most recent major news stories, like 9/11, have been published to the nation at large in what is essentially real-time. For instant alert news and weather apps the cultural framework has always been there.

Apps don’t exist in a vacuum, as this article has shown, the cultural basis of a mobile phone or similar app is often established long before the app arrives on the scene. Whether it’s the phenomenon of betting apps in the wager-friendly environment of the UK or simply news apps which exist in the wake of CNN and other major rolling news channels, the cause and effect order is never quite as simple as it seems. 

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