Too Many Apps?25 Feb 2014, Posted by Mobile App Development in
At first it seemed that iTunes was offering developers something they had longed for–unlimited shelf space. Would be publishers could now publish their products without having to beg, borrow, or steal distribution. And, on top of that, developing apps was relatively inexpensive compared to developing CD-ROMS, virtual worlds, or massive online games. Next came Android, and cross platform frameworks, and so it began, the rush to publish apps.
As of 2013, Google Play/Android had an estimated 800,00 apps. Apple iTunes, 775,000 apps, and Windows 125,000 apps. And it is estimated that mobile users downloaded about 70 billion apps in that same time frame. That adds up to more than 10 apps for each person in the world. So, does this mean this is the bonanza developers had hoped for? No, most app developers and publishers are still not making money, not with a abandonment rate of 95%.
The bottom line is people download lots of apps, but they do not use most of them and instead focus on perhaps 10-15.
For developers or content providers, this presents a daunting problem. What makes an app stand out? How can your apps get noticed? How can they rise above the rest if they don’t have name brands or mega marketing bucks? What accounts for those occasional “viral” successes we read about? One thing is clear, those successes thrive and survive because they are not simply me-too apps. They have something unique that captures the imagination of users in a way that others don’t. This can be an unusual game mechanic, a quirky art style, a simple but elegant user interface, even a genuinely challenging puzzle. It can be something seemingly insignificant like creative sound effects, or something extraordinary useful like directions that avoid rush hour traffic.
It’s clear the world doesn’t need more me-too apps. So, my fellow developers and content owners, think before you make that app. Ask yourself, is this something that people will want to use over and over again (even if only for a limited period of time)? Is this somehow different, better, or more amusing than what is already out there? Does it have any, even one, outstanding feature? And if so, do you have a way to expose a lot of users to your app? And, if you want to make money with your app, have you figured out how? In short, you can’t just “build it and they will come.”
Seem obvious? It does to me, too. But you can’t imagine how many people I meet who prefer to ignore the obvious. What do you think? Is there room for newcomers to succeed? And what advice would you give them?