While apps certainly existed before the iPhone – anyone else here remember downloading stuff onto iPAQs and such? – there's no doubt that it was Apple who popularized the concept. But despite smartphones spreading like wildfire, the majority of US smartphone users don't download new apps over the course of a typical month.
The claims are made by comScore’s new mobile app report, and they seem to suggest that the entire app ecosystem is driven by about one-third of smartphone owners, with "nearly half of all download activity in a given month."
So what's going on here? There are a number of possibilities:
- People download the apps they need and then stick with those.
- It's hard to find new apps.
- People have to wade through too much junk.
- Apps are too expensive.
- The mobile platforms have in-built features that negate the need to download apps.
- There's a potential gulf between iOS and Android that this data doesn't distinguish between.
That last point is worth bearing in mind considering that in June Apple bragged that it had clocked 75 billion App Store downloads since its doors opened, and then claimed that July was its best month ever for App Store revenue, with a record number of people downloading apps.
No matter what the reason, if these figures are close to reality then there's enormous potential for growth in app sales and distribution.