App discovery woes

By Ebrahim Popat Published Date
24 - Aug - 2011
| Last Updated
24 - Aug - 2011
App discovery woes

Although the rapid adoption of smartphones has eased life considerably, it brings along added burden. I'd call it app discovery woes. None of us are surprised to find multiple apps that serve the same purpose. Recently a colleague asked me, “Hey did you check out the latest Foursquare app you released last week?” and all I could do was wonder why didn’t I find it!

App Discovery, according to most developers, is the most significant hurdle in higher earnings. This is your new playground after Google. While websites need to optimise in order to be visible on Google; as an app developer, you'd have to ensure that you are visible on the app store. Only then would you be able to earn revenues.

With a large number of apps uploaded every single day, it becomes very complex for stores to manage them effectively all the time.

According to several analysts:

On an average, smartphone users has 22 applications installed on their phones that are frequently used, and the average time a person spends on an app is less than 10 minutes.

With such as background, app stores and developers must consider the following measures to increase revenues:

Better visibility

The Android Market and Blackberry App Store feature around 30-40 applications for about a week to signify the presence of apps on their store. Depending on whether it is an external distribution network, this could be a free or even a paid service. Placing featured apps on the home page of the app store, considerably increases the possibility of being downloaded by users, up to the extent of tripling.

Comprehensive rating mechanism

Although app rating depends on popular vote, it also in turn sets the trend for further downloads. Now the problem here is that most people only pay attention to the stars an app gets instead of the number of users that have rated it.

The Facebook app by Reseach in Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, has a 2-star rating from over 80,000 users. Crazy Survival FREE by TechSoft Ventures has a 4.5-star rating from under 600 users.


Comments moderation cycle

Comments and feedback should have a moderation cycle and first be reported to the developer or the app store rather than the application page because each negative comment has a direct impact on the download trend for the app. Depending on fair policy, genuine feedback could be included, while the rest could be moderated.

App update frequency

App developers should try and roll out an update only when there is an important bug fix or a major feature update. A very frequent update for large size apps can burden the pockets of consumers a little too much with their data charges and also it could get irritating to download an update too often

Compatibilty and reach

Developers must ensure their apps and games are compatible with as many handset as possible. A good example is Angry Birds, which is available on iOS, Maemo, webOS, Android, Symbian^3, and Windows Phone 7! It isn't surprising to see teenagers, kids and even middle-aged men thrilled with those crazy birds! Another example would be the Facebook app that has a massive compatibility list of 2500 handsets and claims to work on almost every handset in the world!

Compatibility is a problem common with the iPhone where developers generally neglect the old OS versions which still may have a large market for their app. A common one would be the popular IM Nimbuzz which works with only iOS4 and above devices thereby losing share in markets like India where people still are hooked on to the earlier generation iPhone 3G.

Better Tagging

Tagging should be made more prominent and a wider use of words must be made to ease the search process. Many app stores have an option to use words to tag their app to make it more discoverable. For an app such as Skype, the tags usually used may be skype, video, video calling, and calls. Maybe using additional tags such as free, freecalls, freesms, voip, IM, chat and talk may be a good idea.

Ask the professionals

One of the best solutions for app discovery is using an app discovery app. Chomp is one of the best apps which solve the app discovery problem for Android and iPhone. Also, the guys at Chomp help store owners incorporate a better search mechanism and maybe developers could work closely with them to solve their problems as well.

If you're a developer, and have benefited by implementing these measures, or have a tip to share with the rest of the community, please share it by commenting below.

Ebrahim PopatEbrahim Popat