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APPs in Crisis?

  • Some figures to analyze the current app marketplace and its potential developments

Raise your hands if you don’t use at least an app on your smartphone every day! Today, apps have become a fundamental tool for everyone, through which we organize our activities, we communicate with our contacts or simply we check what the weather will be like next day. But the huge number of available apps on the stores (around 2M on iTunes, more than 2.2M on Google PlayStore, slightly more than 600k on Windows Store), many of which are installed on our phones, is not constantly used. Apps invade our lives, for good or for bad, so it’s good to check at some figures about the trend of growth (or contraction) of this marketplace.

A study bt Localytics shows how 23% of users leaves an app after one single opening. According to Josh Todd, chief marketing officer at Localytics, there’s a strict link between the success of an app and how many times it’s opened in the first few days after the install. A problem often, outlined on the Localytics blog, is the low engagement that many apps offer, with errors ranging from low interest of the app’s contents, to shortage of added value of the app with respect to the company web site, to completely lack of push notifications that engage users, helping him in his first steps inside the app.

Despite numbers are still important (in 2015 the app world has generated revenues for 34.2 billion dollars, according to IDC, not considering the advertisement placements inside apps), the number of new downloads are decreasing month after month and usually only the big players (Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp) manage to limit the negative figures. In this scenario, two remarkable exceptions emerge: Snapchat (+109,9%) and Uber (+107,6%) show growing stats which are way beyond the current standards.

These numbers are enough to show how the apps world is suffering. Less than 10 years after Apple launched its iTunes Store in 2008, are we already assisting at the end of the apps business?

Maybe no (as Uber and Snapchat are proving), but for sure the apps world is bound to change. A trend that started early and that’s acquiring momentum is the use of notifications: users can be “stimulated” in using an app through “push messages”. And this is particularly true if the messages comes not from a brand, but from a known person, such as a new “like” on Facebook or a new message received from a friend on Whatsapp. Even notifications from brands can have appeal if planned and crafted wisely and if they offer value to the user’s experience.

Other news could be proposed by Apple, that few days ago announced big changes in its app store, but everything is still to be unveiled.

This is the state of the art. After some years at full throttle, the app business is slowing down in recent months. We’ll see how the big players are gonna face the new challenges and the new business opportunities that are going to emerge in a near future.

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