Apps give us insight into the human condition. Case in point, a Bible app by YouVersion that now boasts 100 million users. That means nearly 66,000 tablet and smartphone owners are accessing YouVersion’s Bible every 1.3 seconds. This wireless “flock” translates into corporate clout. The app could make its designers worth $200 million or more.
We’re starting to wrap our minds around small internet companies and app designers that end up valued in the hundred of millions. But I suppose in entering the world of Bible apps you might not think the same rules apply. The Bible represents continuity and unchanging truth to so many people around the globe. Students of scripture read and reread the same verses and passages to find new meanings in the same text. The Bible is revolutionary on the inside, through the work of its interpreters. Yet the entire story is really one of inside and outside, with the Bible at the crux of many of history’s technological media revolution. This is a standard chapter in any history of the book.
What makes YouVersion fascinating is that the Bible app market is intensely crowded. And if the real action in interacting with the Bible comes through interpretation (the “inside”), then it’s remarkable that an app should so separate itself from the pack by its features and design (the “outside”). YouVersion’s market share is even more incredible when you consider the countless sects, ideologies, and factions that make up the Bible reading public.
YouVersion’s primary backer, LifeChurch.tv must know that it has that rare gem – something around which competing and passionate readers of the Bible will rally around. They can be counted on to continue providing the support necessary for YouVersion to upgrade the app in response to user suggestions. You can be sure that the feedback is flowing in, having already elicited more than six hundred thousand reviews!
As readers know, I’m very fond of stories exemplifying the ways that traditional sources of value adapt to new technologies. The best stories are the ones in which the value source doesn’t merely survive. Rather, we want to see scorching success, the kind that makes the industry as a whole rethink its assumptions. And now in the app age, once again, the Bible gives us fresh insight into the human condition.