Open up your phone and take a quick scan of the apps you have installed? Are any of them new?
Chances are most of the apps you have on your phone aren’t. Most people are “choosing to download more established, mature apps” as opposed to “upstart apps” observes Eric Feng, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and former CTO of Hulu and Flipboard.
Compiling data from Apple’s iTunes App Charts and app analytics firm App Annie, Feng astutely concludes that the great app gold rush may be over.
With over 2 million apps available in Apple’s App Store, the likelihood of a young app breaking into its “top 30” and staying there is no longer as likely as it once was, says Feng.
Apps like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter dominate the top 30 list because they not only launched during the early days of the App Store, but have scaled up to provide platform experiences that no longer need to be addressed by new apps.
A perfect example of this is Facebook. The app was once a place for users to share photos and plan events. Now, it’s a marketplace to purchase goods, a forum that’s aided in the unwanted spread of fake news, a social gaming platform, and who-can-even-keep-track-of-anymore.
Who needs to download a separate app for buying and selling products when Facebook’s got the feature built right into its massive platform?
Unlike new, young apps, mature apps don’t have the same kind of limitations that they once did.
“As the number of apps in the App Store exploded, those limitations became addressed by those very apps,” says Feng. “Instagram made crappy photos look good, WhatsApp made messaging free, Waze gave us time saving driving directions, Spotify made music affordable and on demand, Netflix and Hulu did the same with movies and TV, and so on.”
Most people are ‘choosing to download more established, mature apps’ as opposed to ‘upstart apps’ …
Based on the data he pulled, Feng says users are downloading mature apps “that have been around for over 5 years” and passing on younger apps “that have been around less than 2 years”.
This trend is true for most kinds of apps, ranging from social networking to shopping, but gaming seems to be an exception.
Eighty-five percent of the Top 30 games in the App Store each week are upstarts according to the numbers. Though there’s no one definitive reason why new games are more popular than old ones, Feng’s reasoning is “mobile games fail to satisfy customer wants and needs (or only satisfy them for a short period) so users are constantly hunting for upstart alternatives.” Makes sense — nobody wants to be playing the same old game forever.
This data isn’t the most encouraging for startups working on new apps, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Although most people are downloading old and more mature apps, not cracking the App Store’s top 30 doesn’t mean an app has no chance. As Feng notes, there are tons of apps such as the meditation app Calm and the real-estate app Opendoor that don’t rank highly in the App Store, but are still successful.
“Just because you can’t find a billion user audience doesn’t mean you can’t build a billion dollar company with a business model that works just fine with fewer customers,” says Feng.