Most Americans don’t download apps

I’ve written about the difficulty of doing a mobile apps start-up before, and this report from comScore only reinforces that argument.

According to comScore, in any given month, the majority of US smartphone users don’t download apps…at all.

Yet, mobile app usage continues to grow; apps now represent 52% of time spent with digital media.

The conundrum is that while apps are ever more important, users aren’t downloading more of them. It’s a situation where the top 1% of apps rule the roost while everyone else flounders, struggling to get discovered.

App stores are already overflowing with product, and there is too much friction in searching, downloading and learning how to use an app. Even after an app is downloaded, it is often soon forgotten; lost in the sea of icons on a phone’s home screen.

If you are a mobile app start-up, it’s more imperative than ever to target the niche that download 8+ apps every month. One decent bet might be to target Product Hunt, a buzzy website that highlights good new apps.

I do like to try out apps that received good press coverage. Yet, those are the same apps — dozens of them — that sit on my phone unused; for most, I don’t even remember what they do.

The app system of today is clearly broken in terms of growth. Once people have found their core set of 30 apps, there’s little incentive to try new ones.

Websites don’t have the same problem as discovery and usage are as simple as links.

I’m beginning to wonder whether for no-name start-ups trying to create a new service, whether starting on the web is the way to go. Once people have gotten to know and trust your product, then you debut the mobile app version to an already receptive audience.

As an aside: If most people don’t download so many apps, then why is a weak ecosystem such a problem for Windows Phone? Is it merely perception that a dominant app ecosystem is considered paramount?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s