App Discovery is Down, But There is a Silver Lining

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For a while now, there have been worrying reports about app discovery and app downloads. Users aren’t downloading as many new apps as they used to, and they spend a majority of their time within very few popular apps.

A new report by comScore doesn’t contradict this trend, but does offer some hope for app developers.

To begin, comScore reports that 51% of smartphone owners don’t download a single app from month to month. Only 13% of smartphone owners install 3 or more apps per month. Although popular apps vary from age group to age group, mobile users spend most of their mobile time – 90% – in their top five apps.

While this may be worrying for developers, there is a silver lining when it comes to app discovery – especially when it comes to millennials. comScore found that millennials, or users ranging in age from 18 to 34, are actually expressing more interest in finding and downloading new apps. Among users surveyed, 70% said they are always looking for new apps and they reported downloading more apps this year than they have in past years.

Another interesting tidbit for publishers: 66% of millennials report always looking for more to do within their apps. This should encourage publishers who are experimenting with expanding their features or scope of their app.

The report also notes that while downloads are slowing down, time-in-app is speeding up. In the US, users aged 18-24 are spending two-thirds of their total media time within mobile applications.

While all of this data could at first glance present a contradictory picture for app publishers, one thing is clear: the app economy is evolving and decreased app discovery doesn’t necessarily mean the app boom is over. It’s important for indie developers and big brands to recognize that users now want to be able to more with less. This may mean that brands need to find other ways of engaging with users outside of a standalone app, or publishers need to begin pushing apps that offer a diverse range of services.

And for those with a younger or broader audience demographic, the news is even better. Younger generations – from millennials to the up-and-coming generation z – are still in search of the next big thing, giving publishers a lot of room to create and innovate.

You can read comScore’s full report here

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