Are Apps Losing their Appeal?

Back in 2008 when Apple introduced the App Store, people could not get enough of the content. However, despite the seemingly limitless number of online apps available for download across the various digital distribution platforms, enthusiasm has waned appreciably. The average American smartphone user does not regularly download new apps, and app developers have taken note. Reports point to users narrowing down their usage to a maximum of 10 apps on a consistent basis. The primary demographic that continues to seek out cutting-edge apps are the millennials who are even willing to pay for apps that appeal to them. This shift has forced developers to reconsider their business model.

Selling a somewhat addictive app is no longer a guaranteed path to success. Many companies are struggling to get people to download their content. Users are no longer browsing the marketplace for downloads unless they have a specific need, such as a banking or dining app. When they do manage to try a new app, reports show that one in four people will delete the app after its first use.

With the trend toward providers automatically installing popular apps like Facebook or YouTube onto smartphones, there are fewer occasions to open up the App Store at all. The open marketplace is always challenging, but this latest wrinkle in app activity and distribution adds to the struggle to deliver and stay competitive. Understanding what drives the diminishing interest levels for the majority of users is essential. There are plenty of reasons people lose interest in apps other than mere boredom or indifference.

Scrolling through any social media feed, you will inevitably encounter any number of corny ads for game apps. Initially, all apps are free to download and then reveal microtransactions later on that permit the user to gain the full app’s experience. Indications for any pay-to-play component will typically discourage the majority of users which is the biggest hurdle for app developers. They have to find a balance between maintaining an appealing free experience for customers while simultaneously creating a value proposition to entice users to spend money on their app.

In the rush to push products out to the marketplace, executing this delicate balancing act is proving difficult for many developers. Social media has emboldened society to voice their opinions, so customers are not hesitant to leave brutally honest reviews if they feel an app is not up to par which can kill a new release right out of the gate. If users are going to invest time and money into an app, the door they are unlocking had better live up to the hype.

Developers should consider these factors and champion longevity in the market over a quick buck. Leveraging tools like online android emulators and similar environments offer low-cost options to adequately test products to ensure quality apps are being released. When competing for consumers in an age where user expectations for technology are high, companies cannot afford to lose precious market share over rash releases. Solid reputations are hard fought and easily lost in the industry, so the added effort to understand the customer and put apps to the test will result in long term gains.

Image credit: Apps via ESB Professional/Shutterstock

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