Sensor Tower are reporting U.S. iPhone Users Spent An Average of $40 on Apps in 2016. This is an increase of $5 compared to the previous year. Games represent more than 80% of the revenue:
These numbers show that, unless you are developing games, an app store revenue-driven business model isn’t likely to be viable.
It’s taken a long time, but we have finally reached the stage where a significant number of companies are looking for Android to iOS porting. There was a time when most development was iOS only, followed by a time where there was significant porting from iOS to Android. After this, there followed a period of enquiries for work on Android AND iOS. Now, finally we are seeing Android being ported to iOS.
The main problem with Android to iOS ports is that Android allows you to do so much more. More specifically, there are lots of things you can do on Android AND iOS, but the Apple Store T&Cs tie down what’s allowed. There’s even been an Android to iOS porting project this week that I wasn’t able to quote on because I knew two main features were not possible. Therein lies the problem starting with Android and porting to iOS.
There was a thought provoking tweet by Alex Fehners today:
The resulting comments suggest about 1 year is a good update period to avoid the affect of reviews being reset. Obviously, this isn’t practical for most projects that need to release often.
It’s another good reason to avoid creating paid apps and look for a different business model.
The GSMA is reporting that App Annie says “Global app store gross revenue will hit $51 billion this year and exceed $101 billion in 2020”. Revenue from the Play Store will exceed that from the iOS App Store by 2017.
I believe app developers shouldn’t get overly excited about revenue or projected changes in revenue. This only considers paid apps or apps offering in-app purchases. A very large slice of app development and return on investment (ROI) doesn’t come from people paying for apps but from free apps supporting paid products and services.
AppAnnie has some new freely available research on “The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets” (pdf). Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are driving download growth. Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Egypt are tipped by App Annie as the next countries to see growth.
For developers whose app audience is worldwide this means thinking more globally. Some things to think about include localisation (translation), pricing and in some cases re-designing for the target audience. Some apps might even benefit from a change of monetisation strategy based on the region. It might even be beneficial to think about apps only targeting the growth markets and their particular needs.
I previously wrote how, for in-app purchases, 1.14% of paying customers generate 30% of the sales. A relatively small number of customers are the loyal ones.
Today I came across an announcement for AppStretch that takes advantage of your most loyal customers. AppStretch says fans will pay a lot for a great feature, improvement or just to support the developer. I guess AppStretch are right and developers are actually under-charging the worth of in-app purchased new features for the top loyal users.
AppStretch will crowdsource feature ideas for apps and provide a better mechanism for monetising the process. It’s coming in Q1 2016 but you can sign up now.
Remember, it’s not just about money. This process might also help refine and improve your app in the right direction.
I have previously written about how many apps an organisation should have, the situation of a brand creating many apps and the problems of an organisation having multiple app publishers.
Today, I came across UCL’s App Lab which uses a private app store to help build a focussed audience and solve the problem of poor discoverability on the public stores. I am not a great fan of 3rd party app stores but their use, in this kind of scenario, seems to make sense.
There’s a new research paper (pdf) from the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Competition Policy on affect of the frequency of app updates on boosting downloads across the App Store and Play Store.
A conclusion is that, on both the App store and Google Play, app updates are released with an extremely high average frequency of every 28 days for Google and every 59 days for Apple. However…
“The release of an update positively affects downloads in iTunes while it has no significant impact in Google Play”
The paper mentions “divergent regulations on the publication of apps” and “the absence of a strict quality check” as to partially explain the differences. The paper also mentions that fixing app problems due to device fragmentation might also be contributing to more updates on Android.
Looking from a developer viewpoint, having worked with multiple clients that tend to release both iOS and Android apps, yes, I can see the Apple review process does slow down the frequency of releases on the App Store. Yes, device problems often cause Android apps to have to be re-released. However, while the adding of features might improve downloads, on both platforms this doesn’t tend to be the reason for releases. Instead it tends to be to re-design, fix or add new features rather than to expressly try to cause new downloads. The study only looked into the top 1000 apps so maybe there’s some learnings there for my clients and the huge long tail of other apps.
As the paper says “to continue growth you need to provide constant value” to the end user.