App fatigue is real

By , Jun 9, 2016

App Store Feaetured tab teaser 001

I’m positive that this stat does not apply to me, but most smartphone users in the United States downloaded zero apps in a typical month, as per comScore’s August 2014 mobile app report.

This is something that indie devs have had to live with for more than two years now and it remains to be seen if Apple’s new App Store subscription terms will help solve this worrying problem.

Last month’s research from Nomura, which relies on data from app tracker SensorTower, painted a gloomy picture for big name developers, too, as the top 15 app publishers saw downloads drop an average of 20 percent in the United States.

So, is the app boom really over or is this just a temporary blip?

Gold rush is over

Peter Kafka, writing for Re/code:

People are still making plenty of apps, of course. And many people are still downloading them. But the go-go growth days are gone.

But now even the very biggest app publishers are seeing their growth slow down or stop altogether. Most people have all the apps they want and/or need. They’re not looking for new ones.

Here’s research from Nomura that backs Kafka’s point.

US App downloads Nomura chart May 2016

Globally, app downloads are growing but not by much due to decelerating smartphone sales growth, with the top 15 apps growing by just three percent in May 2016.

US App downloads Nomura chart 002 May 2016

“So you can still break through the saturated app market, if you are very very very lucky, and good. But the odds are stacked against you,” Kafka opines.

Could it be that Apple, faced with evidence of app fatigue, has decided to shake up the App Store with the introduction of search ads and subscriptions for all apps?

App Store kicks of mobile app revolution

We certainly don’t need yet another flashlight app or a news-reader app or a mobile photography app given that the App Store is already packed to the gills with these.

As mentioned, independent developers have known about the decline in app downloads for quite a while, based on this comScore chart from August 2014.

US smartphone app downloads comScore 2014 chart 001

The saturation issue makes it harder for not just independent developers, but major ones as well to continue investing big money into mobile apps. A typical mobile user these days has a couple dozen apps that cover their interests and that’s it.

More worryingly, as evidenced by an influx of freemium-based apps and games on the App Store over the past few years, fewer and fewer people nowadays want to pay upfront for apps.

Are you suffering from what the market is calling “app fatigue”?

Source: Re/code, Quartz, comScore

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  • Mike M. Powell

    I really haven’t bought / downloaded anything from the App Store in like a year+. Besides like 1 or 2 games that i play everyday lol. Other than that it’s been lackluster imo

  • Joaquim N.

    I believe the app boom is over. I can’t even remember the last time I opened any app store to check for something new.

  • racerhomie2

    Hey, I try new apps every week!

    • Jayy

      Same here!

  • Martynet

    Everybody is different… I love trying new apps and games all the time and I download few new apps every week. I collected lots and lots of great apps since my first iPhone 3GS and I remember I was downloading and trying nearly everything at the begining, when Appstore was taking off. Today, I have about 500 apps installed, from which about 150 is games. I have a 128 GB iPhone, so there is no need to delete anything 🙂

    • Markieze Mitchell

      I am with you on that one. I too have a 128 GB iPhone 6 and people ask me all the time why do I have so many apps on my phone. Well just like you said, there is no need to delete anything.

  • Joonyaboy

    Once you have that go-to app, no need to keep trying others. Games are an exception. I have over 700 apps installed. I cull as many as possible each month but as far as new apps, they are far and few between.

  • askep3

    The people who haven’t downloaded any apps recently are (probably) the people who get their phone, download snapchat Facebook Twitter Instagram, and flappy bird and a game or two, maybe Netflix. And then probably just recently got a new app! Phhhhoooto

  • Brandon Higgins

    If i knew of a way to find some of the coolest new released apps i may be downloading more apps, but it’s been about a year or two since I have. One thing i do is look at the top charts and those really haven’t changed much. It’s the same apps, Minecraft, that heads up game, and stuff that isn’t new.

  • Steve Harold

    Video game makers are able to make high quality games because of the few players in the field. Apple needs to boot indies and go Xbox route for games.

  • Tonya Denise ZaSu Peterson

    I definitely don’t download or even look at as many apps as I did a couple years ago, but will say a portion is attributed to the freeware itself. I hate it and much rather just pay a couple dollars or so for a game/app than deal with ads but so many companies don’t do that these days. I’ve heard the ad revenue is more profitable? I still hate it and use less apps due to it.

  • Anonymous

    I agree i dont spend much in the app store bow days. Granted every once in a while i fund a app to buy. Mire of my money is now focus on buying movies and building up a grand movie library.

  • StopSnitching

    It seems most apps now a days all require your facebook accounts or social media accounts linked to it, I’m honestly sick of it – every app requires you to give you all types of personal information and have an account. I delete those apps instantly which in turn make me not care about the app store much anymore or even want to look into finding new apps.

    • Digitalfeind

      I agree. I have Facebook and hate it. But I cannot just get rid of it because so many things are tied to it. Cydia being one of them and the most important. And I know I could use google but that’s something else I would rather not have.

  • Digitalfeind

    I bought a thirty dollar gift card for the App Store to buy some new games but nothing seemed worthy. I just bought music and movies with it. The AppStore seems watered down by nothing but copycat apps.

  • Sleetui

    Apps nowadays aren’t as exciting from before. Especially games. The annoying in-app purchases and crappy content lacks creativity. Sure, there are a few games out there who differentiate themselves but many games focus on making the user feel happy and accomplished. It’s all the same at this point. For the rest of the apps it’s different. There are some apps that accomplish things better than others. Why go find an app that we already have and love that does the same thing?

  • Moltakfire

    ‘App store kicks off mobile app revolution’ instead of ‘App store kicks of mobile app revolution’.

    Unless that was intended?

  • I have my phone for about 2 years, and I downloaded most of the apps that I need back then. How they want the download number to grow (aka I should download more apps each month) if I already downloaded them?