Yesterday I read a depressing report which says smartphone and tablet owners are not downloading apps as much as they did, and those that are don’t pay for the ones they download. If I were an app developer I would be depressed. Fortunately, I’m merely skeptical.
To Buy, Or Not To Buy
Colin Barker says “most of us have never paid for an app, ever.” Remember my admonition about ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics?‘
Let’s assume for a moment that the research on app purchases and smartphone users– from Deloitte, and we know how good their research can be– is accurate.
Some consumers who own smartphones are not downloading as many apps as they once did, and they’re buying even less, and many have never bought an app.
What’s not mentioned is where those numbers can be sliced, diced, and Julienned to make something useful.
Why are actual downloads of apps increasing? Why has Apple paid out billions of dollars to app developers? Why is Microsoft getting into the smartphone and tablet app business? Why did IBM cut a deal with Apple to make apps for the enterprise?
So many questions that research doesn’t seem to answer. Why?
Tech writers and management consultants and much of the tech industry watchers live in a bubble. The real world is populated by a huge number– the vast majority– of smartphone users who use their smartphones as phones, and the apps they use are limited in number. Text, browser, email, maps, a game or three.
Apple’s fortunes, in the eyes of researchers and writers, is tied up in those numbers. Except that Apple’s numbers seem to defy the numbers that trend elsewhere.
Because Apple lives outside the bubble. Apple lives in reality with the rest of us. True research and analysis on this topic would differentiate smartphone users into numbers more reflective of reality, as well as by user, by platform, by geographic regions, by economic status, by age group, and much more.
Simplistic analysis says smartphone users simply are losing their appetite for new apps, and most people never ever buy an app. To the first point, well, duh. How many apps can a smartphone user use? To the second point, why is that a surprise? And, another issue, obvious to me, is how does Apple’s ecosystem prosper while the rest of the world dries up in the face of the withering heat of meaningless research.
My iPhone and iPad can only hold so many apps, but that hasn’t stopped me from checking around to find new ones or better ones. The Mac has been around 30 years and customers still buy apps for their Macs, and the Mac app industry is as prosperous now as any time in history.
So, to the research and tech writer community I make a simple recommendation. Get out of your bubble and recognize that the tech world is diverse, thriving, dynamic, and not easily buttonholed or described in simplistic terms.
Oh, and I’m not a consumer. I’m a human being.