More Mobile Apps, But Comparatively Few Users

Carl Weinschenk
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The mobile app story is fascinating, at least according to comScore. However, the percentages indicate a high level of contradiction: The number of apps and their use is growing, but the number of people involved is surprisingly limited.

At the Quartz, the story begins with the positive app numbers (especially for Apple): Apps consume 52 percent of the “time spent with digital media” in the United States. That’s up 12 percent from early last year. July was the best month ever for Apple’s App Store revenue, and the company announced in June that 75 billion apps had been downloaded.

The contradictory data concerns who actually is using apps. A bit more than 65 percent of folks are not. Thus, all of that usage is concentrated in about 35 percent of the populace. Furthermore, as the Quartz story on the comScore numbers points out, the top 7 percent of users represent almost half of all downloads.

So it is a bit of a mixed bag of news: The good news is that lots of apps are being used. The bad news is that comparably few people use them, but the good news within the bad news is that finding ways to broaden the base of users, assuming consistent use among those already on board with apps, will lead to far more success for the category. It would be a far more dire picture if the market was saturated.

At ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes discusses the context of the comScore app numbers in regard to the developers as iOS 8 approaches. Specifically, there are five concerns among developers:

  • Introduction of 4,000 new application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Reliance on the cloud
  • Expectation that developers, through HomeKit and HealthKit, will support the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Introduction of the Swift programming language
  • The need to rush apps to market that take advantage of iOS 8’s new features

Midsize Insider takes a look at a Gartner report on mobile app development for business. The first difference in building mobile and traditional apps is approach: In the old world, developers discuss with end users what they want. In the newer and more nebulous mobile app world, the end user doesn’t necessarily know with any specificity what he or she wants.

An early key is the user interface:

Gartner suggests that application developers should first work on perfecting the UI and application work flow to ensure that navigating is easy and intuitive. A strong UI will enable developers to get more targeted feedback, make it easier to switch screens in and out during A/B testing and allow users to more easily discover everything the app has to offer.

The report also notes the importance of agile mobile development; a modular and fast approach that gets the mobile app into the hands of users in a timeframe that is more likely to lead to success.

The path forward for app developers is clear: Find ways to get more people to use apps. And comScore makes the challenge obvious. Developers using iOS 8 and creating apps for business have the opportunity to work toward this goal. Convincing even 10 percent more people to use mobile apps, and convincing people using only one to try a second and third, can build on the success the sector already is experiencing.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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