Word-of-Mouth Key For App Discovery

Getting people to download, let alone pay for their apps, remains a daunting challenge for most developers. A Gartner study earlier this year projected that by 2017, nearly all (94.5%) of downloads will be for free apps, up from 91% last year. Worse, by 2018, less than 0.01% of apps will be considered a success by their creators.

Still, people are more willing to pay for some types of apps than others, a new Nielsen report suggests. That includes games, and apps for reading (books and magazines), listening to music, and watching video. he findings are based on the research firm’s Mobile App Playbook, which surveyed 3,743 people aged 13 and older who downloaded an app in the last 30 days.

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But even popular games, such as “Angry Birds” have switched to a freemium model — letting users download apps for free and charging for virtual items or in-app currency — instead of requiring an upfront fee. And among the 10 top-grossing apps in the App Store last year, only Minecraft ($6.99) was a paid app.

Ad-free social network Ello indicated that it plans to adopt a freemium model by selling premium features to a smaller proportion of “power users” among its members. Social networks have mostly relied on a free, ad-supported model, so that could prove a difficult path for Ello. But it’s also possible that people who wouldn’t normally pay for any social networking features may be more inclined to do so simply as a way of supporting Ello’s anti-ad manifesto.

The Nielsen study also looked at situations where people are most likely to turn to mobile apps. Is most often when they’re alone (70%) or bored (68%). Other instances are when waiting for someone or something (61%), while watching TV (48%), and right before going to sleep (41%). Those figures reflect smartphone use but the data on tablets is roughly parallel, although a higher percentage (54%) uses apps while watching TV.

Smartphone users usually download apps in the first place for leisure or entertainment (53%) or a recommendation from a friend (48%). The corresponding figures for tablet owners are 59% and 44%. The findings underscore the power of word-of-mouth when it comes to app discovery, which is notoriously difficult because of the more than 1 million titles in both the App Store an Google Play.

While the average smartphone downloader has around 42 apps on their device, the majority (87%) say they use less than 10 apps on a daily basis. More than half (55%) use between one and four apps, and almost a third report using between five and nine, according to the Apps Playbook. 

A separate, more in-depth report from comScore last month showed almost three out of every four minutes spent with apps is devoted to a user's top four apps.

Nielsen’s cross-platform report for the second quarter showed that apps overall continue to command a growing amount of consumers’ attention. U.S. adults spent an average of 43 hours and 31 minutes per month connecting with content through an app or mobile Web browser — up from 33 hours and 48 minutes per month in the year-earlier period.

Among African-Americans and Hispanics, the average monthly time spent is significantly higher -- at nearly 53 hours and 49 hours, respectively.
3 comments about "Word-of-Mouth Key For App Discovery".
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  1. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, October 31, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.

    The Nielsen Mobile Apps Playbook study was conducted in 2010 and has quite different data from the Comscore white paper recently released. You might want to take another look at this.

  2. Trung Ho from ASU, November 1, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.

    Word-of-mouth is a form of marketing based on reputation, which is probably the most powerful marketing tool if app developers use it the right way to get apps noticed and increase sales. It is the most successful of all marketing techniques because when friends recommend a product or service they introduce instant trust in a brand to the new user because friends trust each other. A good, useful, and cool app will prompt the buyers to recommend the app to others through emails, blogs, or personal conversations. It is such a really hard work to earn a good reputation. However, a good reputation will be extremely effective in helping app developers to sell more apps and when they release follow-on apps to user community. In contrast, a bad reputation can be damaging overall app sales and a bad customer experience can result in additional loss of sales opportunities. Negative experiences prompt people to tell others their opinions about the app they are using and sometimes they write about their disappointments on app reviews. People are hate being sold products, told what is good and what is not and why this app is best for them. With word of mouth advertising app developers do not need to sell anything, they are not asking anyone to download their app, it is being chosen to be downloaded because someone else has recommended it. Most people would rather purchase a product, or download an app, because it has been recommended and has a good review rather than downloading an app blindly.

  3. Don Kellogg from Neustar, November 5, 2014 at 4:49 p.m.

    Dorothy Higgins, you are incorrect. Nielsen's mobile apps playbook comes out several times a year.

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