According to a Deloitte report, due out on the 4th September, the average monthly downloads of apps has decreased from 2.32 to 1.82 apps. The report cites that this is partly due to better apps in the market, with people keeping them for longer, as well as feeling less inclined to look for new apps.
Whilst this may set alarm bells ringing for some, it should actually be a good thing for smartphone owners. Developers and companies can’t just put apps out there and hope people will download them. Downloads are worthless if apps don’t then get used. Apps need to fulfil specific purposes and meet specific needs to be of real value to the end user.
The report also cites that the overall size of the app market isn’t decreasing, but that the number of ‘casual users’ are using fewer apps. According to the report, the proportion of smartphone and tablet owners who have never downloaded any apps, increased from less than 20 per cent to 31 per cent.
Indeed, this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. There are a larger number of smartphone users who have moved from feature phones to smartphones. These specific users typically use their devices for basic communication only and therefore, at this point, are not in the market for apps. This was highlighted by a previous Deloitte report, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions for 2014, which showed smartphone penetration among the over-55s was on the rise.
This is a market that won’t tend to make full use of the device’s capabilities, as they only have the devices because smartphones are the only ones available. This then shows that the smartphone market is splitting between these users and the power users, who will tend to go for flagship devices such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 930 or the Nexus line of phones.
The non-power users will typically be on devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, HTC Desire 610, or Nokia Lumia 530. Whilst still technically smartphones, they were designed for the lower end of the market, at affordable prices.
Owners of the power devices will have chosen them because they understand the benefits apps and these devices can bring. These are the types of devices that are found in the business market, where employees use devices to complete tasks and often spend several hours per day using them.
The number of apps being downloaded per month may be decreasing, but that shouldn’t worry brands. When apps became popular, making a success of an app became harder. This is why companies shouldn’t just build an app for the sake of having one. There has to be a reason behind the app, a gap in the market and an audience base that will not only download the app, but use it too.
Increasingly, companies are turning their attention to creating apps for internal use cases. These are apps that improve processes, protect corporate data, provide employees and channel partners with the tools they need. Companies that do build apps for customers are focused on apps that extend their product offering, complimenting existing channels and stopping the churn to competitors who may be further down their mobile roadmaps.