Thoughts on App Stats & User Perception

iPhone Stats PageThe average amount of apps that an iOS user has downloaded for their phone has been reported to be anywhere from 40 -100. As you can see from the image on this post, I have 395 applications installed. Even allowing for preinstalled apps, if they are counted in that number, I am well above average. I was pondering that discrepancy between myself and the average iOS user and thinking about whether or not my number was better for developers or not.

On reflection, I concluded that neither number is a complete picture. If the average user is anything like me, they have many more apps that they downloaded, didn’t like, and then deleted. Maybe I’m just a hoarder and delete a smaller percentage of my downloaded apps. Does that potentially large percentage of deleted apps matter? This led me to question what percentage of app downloads are paid vs. free. I know that I have purchased quite a few apps, but the majority I downloaded were free. Some were free on a temporary deal, while others were always free.

Whether I deleted them or not, those developers that got me to pay for their apps at least received a bit of money as a result of my purchase. The free apps may have received a little help in their app rankings and maybe a few pennies from advertising, but if they were deleted then eventually those benefits are gone. So, what is the value of download numbers to developers?

The answer to that is buzz. It gives developers a good idea if their app is getting talked about or is easy to find. Or maybe it shows that they developed an app in a popular niche. Those who charge for their apps have an even stronger sense of that because people were willing to plunk down money on their app. Even though this is valuable data, it feels like more a snapshot in time that is taken when a purchase is made. It doesn’t give a full picture of the ongoing satisfaction of their customers.

The really important information is how satisfied users are with a product. Comments on the app stores is a nice indicator of this, but are often polarized towards love or hate feelings for the apps. Another good way to track satisfaction would be how often and for how long the app is opened. This can be tracked if the app requires a connection to a developer’s servers to run.

The indicator that I would like to see on top of those would be, where is the app kept on the device? Is it on the home screen? Is it in a folder? How prominently is it displayed? You can tell a lot about how an app is perceived by your customers by where it is placed on their device. That’s one piece of information that is hard to get, but really telling. On my iPhone, the apps on my home screen change over time, but only slowly. It takes a large change in usage before an app can make that change, but when it does it means something about how I use my device and what is really important to me. Maybe one of these days I’ll post my home screen here for everyone to see and we can see what we can glean from that.

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