The challenge of being discovered


January 10, 2012


min read

The app ecosystem is getting crowded. With almost 600,000 iOS applications and nearly 400,000 on Android (source:Distimo), being discovered by users has become one of the main challenges for mobile app developers.

Apps are discovered by users in many ways, from word of mouth to on-device advertising, and the whole host of startups that have emerged recently. Developers try extremely hard to increase the overall ranking of their apps because that vastly improves organic discovery. In general, this is precipitated by a combination of various ingredients; spending some money on install campaigns, internally cross-promoting your apps, ?borrowing? advertising space from other developers, etc.

When an app is listed on the Top Charts or on similar featured apps list/websites, it usually experiences a download boom. For instance, fitness app maker RunKeeper recently revealed that their app saw a 637% increase in downloads since November after just a few days of being a featured app in the Android Market ?Health & Fitness? section.

We are thrilled to be in a space that is overflowing with the potential for explosive growth. Our position has allowed us to provide game developers with the necessary tools to acquire valuable users, get to the charts and build sustainable businesses on top of their apps.

Despite the multitude of options for users to discover new apps, we believe this process can still be improved.

First, we?d like to echo an idea that comes from Yusuf Goolamabbas, the CTO of Animoca. In his last post he suggests that Top Lists on the iOS appstore/ Android Market would be more useful if they eliminated apps that have been already installed on the users account or a device combination. This would allow apps that were ranked lower in the charts to climb the charts and to be discovered by users who had already consumed apps in the Top 10 or Top 25. As he states, both Google and Apple have the ability to know what apps have been downloaded by a user specific to a device and/or an account and thus personalise the Top lists by eliminating apps which have already been installed by the user from the Top various lists.

Second, Apple?s ?Genius? system needs some help. The recommendations aren?t helpful when each app sourced is based off of only one other app in your collection. If Genius took a cue from Netflix or Pandora and based recommendations on an assortment of apps on a device, time spent in the app, and ratings, the tool would be extremely powerful. Apple should have the incentive to improve their Genius recommendations, after all, Apple takes a cut of every transaction on the platform.

Finally, on-device app search should be easier. An average device user has over 60 apps installed. While these apps can geo-locate, connect to wireless storage services, and call your mother for you, they still can?t remind us to use them every time we should. How can developers expect users to hunt for new apps when users can barely handle the apps already on their devices?? Faced with clunky app navigation, TechCrunch wrote an interesting article about the issue and proposed a great idea: give our devices a real app search engine.

These are just three ways we hope to see app discovery improved in 2012. We?re excited to see what new comers bring to the industry to tackle the issue.?