App Apprehension

apps logos
Did you happen to see the Pew Research released this week that showed people open less than five apps per week? And, Nielson data shows that one in five of the top 50 apps every month is new to the list, meaning consumers are constantly presented “discoverable” new apps. (Discoverable, meaning that they don’t have to dig down into the obscure parts of the app store; these are the top 50 most popular.) It’s estimated that people delete 80-90% of their apps.

I think people tend to delete apps so quickly, because they buy apps like they buy gum. They’re a quick impulse buy and they lose their flavor after awhile. But every once in a while there’s an app that breaks free of this maxim. And some of these apps cost significantly more than the typical 99 cents or $2.99 that people are willing to pay because the apps are great. At Zondervan we launched a $24.99 Bible app late last year and people seem to be embracing it with positive reviews and excellent sales performance.

With such crowded app stores and consumers largely abandoning apps they download, I thought I’d spend a few minutes wracking my brain and putting forth some observations on what elements make the kind of app that people hang onto for a long time. I think it works when apps:

Employ a simple, elegant user interface that focuses on the primary task of the app instead of getting too busy (Examples: Instagram, iMovie, Shazam)

Make life easier or more productive (Trip It, Evernote, Kayak)

Aggregate and catalog info efficiently (Flixster, JamBase, Gate Guru)

Include fresh daily content based on the user’s desires (Pulse, Flip Board, Flud)

Often this is user generated content often coming from one’s peers (Facebook, Words with Friends, Urban Spoon)

Include content that people are passionate about like sports, politics or religion (ESPN Score Center, or Drudge Report/Huffington Post, or NIV Study Bible<–Disclosure: That’s a Zondervan product)

These apps listed above I downloaded a long time ago and continue to use. I can appreciate Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Dizzy Bee, Doodle Jump and Topple as much as the next guy, but they don’t seem to have the staying power of the others listed above.

Do you agree? What other insights or observations do you have?



  1. Chip, I agree with you. I love your analogy to gum. I think what you list is key. I use several apps multiple times a day, and they all hit your filter. Yes, NBA Jam is a frequent night time app, but the business apps all have something unique and special. Good post. Thanks for sharing!

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