So Many Apps, So Little Time

by Chuck Martin on April 30, 2011

Ever feel like you have app overload? Think you’ve downloaded too many mobile apps and wish you could delete them all and start over again?

Or perhaps worse, you have so many apps on your smartphone but you use only a few on a regular basis?

With literally hundreds of thousands of apps available, app download can easily get out of control.

The reality is that the number of apps is only going to increase, no matter what smartphone you have.

The number of apps downloaded from Apple topped 10 billion and Google’s Android more than three billion, according to ABI Research. Within four years, the research firm predicts the total number of downloads to hit 44 billion. Yes, billion.

The good news is that many are free. For example, Android Market has more than 134,000 free apps and Apple’s App Store has more than 120,000, according to analytics provider Distimo, which tallies the number of Apple Apps overall at more than 360,000.

So have you become loyal to some apps while ignoring or discarding others? If so, you aren’t alone.

It turns out that while a quarter (26%) of people never use a downloaded app after the first time, a quarter (also 26%) become loyal customers and use the app more than 10 times. These findings by the analytics firm Localytics indicates that downloading an app is only half of the success equation, both for the app provider and the consumer.

If a company crates an app that is downloaded a lot but used little, much investment can be considered wasted. On the other hand, if a company creates an app that becomes one of those used more than 10 times, it can be considered money well spent.

So what determines what works? It obviously depends of what a company is trying to achieve. But in general, a successful app has to do at least one of three things for a consumer: make their life cheaper, easier or fun.

The make-life-cheaper category can include coupons and special offers (which consumers do use), the make-life-easier category can include those that provide utility, such as The Weather Channel, and those that make life fun can includes games, such as the oh-so-popular Angry Birds.

With U.S. smartphone penetration now at 36 percent and headed to 50 percent by year end, according to Nielsen, the continuance of app nation is all but assured.

So as a consumer, maybe it’s time to clear out the deadwood to make room for new apps coming down the pike. And as a business, maybe it’s time to determine what kind of ongoing value you can provide to your customers through new apps.

What apps have you downloaded and discarded?  And what are your favorite keepers? Maybe we should make a list.




 Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker around the world. 



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