The age of apps and increasing competition for the top spots

May 9, 2011

As the smartphone market continues to rise rapidly year on year, consumer enthusiasm for smartphone applications has resulted in an ever expanding and increasingly competitive apps space. As the app market become more crowded, developers are finding it harder to create apps that stands out and consumers are facing difficulty in finding apps of use and interest to them.

App store browsing on devices has been a common problem for a while. If apps fall out of, for example Apple’s Top 25, they quickly experience a fall in downloads as users struggle to locate them. As a consequence, it appears Apple and Google have recently made some changes in their app store rankings. Their ranking algorithms now appear to reward apps that have the most active users, rather than just the number of new downloads, tipping the balance back towards the apps that consumers love and use regularly. The rankings adjustment was not the only change; the Apple app store now lets consumers browse all the way to #300 for top apps, opening up the app ecosystem. This increase to browse #300 of the top apps may seem like a significant jump, but when we consider the fact that Apple has over 350,000 apps, developers are still competing ferociously to make their app visible.

To get maximum exposure, many developers have embraced the freemium model. Making your app free to the mass smartphone market early on can generate a large user base. But, keeping them and turning them into loyal customers is the real success story. Once a user has downloaded a free app onto their phone, they can literally show it to their friends. This physical nature of apps has proved a priceless way of promoting apps through word-of-mouth buzz.

The rise of savvy and sophisticated consumers, and their ability to spread the word through blogging, reviews, forums and now Facebook (thanks to its integration into Getjar, the independent app store) means that for an app to be successful it needs to be flexible to adapt to its customers’ needs. If common complaints regarding apps are not addressed in subsequent version upgrades, app ratings will quickly spiral downwards, downloads will fall and the app will relinquish its visibility stake hold. Developers dedicated to constantly innovating and incorporating feedback score highly on loyal customers.

The most important factor in determining an apps success is the real-world value and useful engagement that it provides for the user. The app has to offer something unique to generate a positive reaction. Not only is the app market saturated, the categories within the app market are saturated so creating something unique and valued is a definitive must.

So to make your app stand out; start free, innovate again and again, be unique and provide value.

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