When the iPhone first came along, Apps make were cool tools and gizmos that helped you do things better or faster, or were games that were fun.

Then Apps entered a second phase where media companies created Apps that showed their website’s content in an easier, friendly form that was formatted for the iPhone. Instead of seeing a large website of a newsaper with huge graphics that took a long time to load and scrolled off the narrow width of the screen, you’d see a site better designed for the smaller form factor of the iPhone. Newspapers, magazines and sports sites followed this model.

That brings us to today, when companies are creating their own Apps. But rather than add real value like a gadget or tool, these companies’ Apps are really re-designs of their websites so you can see info and navigate them faster. That’s all to the good. But do you really need an app for your favorite big box store?

I can see the need for Apps for UPS or FEDEX so you can find info faster or complete a transaction faster. But for a big box? Or for a giant corporation? I don’t get it. I don’t think there’s a reason for people to download the App from those companies.

However,  I can understand why they are doing it. If they can place an icon on your iPhone, then they own a piece of valuable real estate. And they own a share of your mind. If you keep on seeing (in my case) The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Washington Post and ESPN, then there’s a good chance I’ll look at those sites for news and sports, and less chance that I’ll go to CNN, Fox, or CBSsportline.com.  This makes sense.

I’m sure as the bandwagon moves along, more and more companies will be creating “Apps” which are really redesigned websites. If they can build their brand and add value to their customers, then I’m all for it.

But beware of companies that are going to try to sell you a bill of goods to create an app for your website so you can sell a book or a speech. I don’t see anyone giving up valuable real estate on their iPhones for that.