Musings on mobile, tech, and behavioral economics. From Beirut to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Friday, August 8, 2014

O App, where art thou?

"The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"
- Marcel Proust

According to Nielsen, the average mobile phone owner uses 26.8 apps per month.
So much for apples; it seems an app a day keeps the doctor away.

At first glance, this number seemed high to me (notably for non-techies).  Though if you factor in that Nielsen's data includes pre-installed apps (such as Photos, Contacts, Camera, and the App/Play stores themselves) you can easily reach 10 apps used monthly before counting your Facebooks and WhatsApps.  So how do users discover apps to populate their valuable OS real estate?  Will the number of apps used per month continue to increase or will apps come and go in a vicious churn, with the new vying to evict the old?  Both fates don't bode well for our attention spans.  It's a wonder if you're still reading this and not playing Candy Crush already.

There's been a lot of attention on app discovery and the dearth of a PageRank-equivalent ecosystem.  On the hallowed web, you can discover articles, recipes, videos, tap-dancing cat sculptures etc. all with the opening of a tab and the click of a link.  We have over 3 billion pages of content at our finger tips.  If discovering web content is akin combing grains of sand on the sea shore, discovering apps is a deep-sea dive.  Though arguably the reward can be much richer.  A recipe on the web can't access my phone's timer function.  Or remind me to pick up eggs when I'm at the right location.  Well built apps can.  But how is a user to know where to find their treasure boxes?

As Benedict Evans notes, we're lacking a PageRank for the mobile app discovery world.  Users are largely limited to surfing app stores and following organic or paid referrals.  With deep links and more sophisticated store fronts, the treasures are slowly becoming more accessible.  But we're not there yet.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear how you discover your apps and where you think the ecosystem is going. Please fill out the short survey below. I'll be sharing results in the next post.

Comments on app discovery (or tap-dancing cats) welcome as well...

No comments: