Main image of article New App Challenges for Mobile Developers
shutterstock_340644782 It’s hard out there for your average app developer. In addition to all the other issues related to creating, launching, and marketing new software, half of all smartphone users download a grand total of zero apps per month. No, that wasn’t a typo: some 49 percent of respondents to a recent study by research firm comScore (registration required) reported never clicking ‘download’ on an app. For developers, that’s bad news, and it gets worse: the total growth rate for smartphone apps is in decline: Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 1.45.31 PM Combine that with data earlier this year from analytics firm App Annie, which suggested that apps have a very narrow timeframe in which to generate downloads, and it’s clear that app developers face a host of challenges related to discovery and engagement. That comScore study also featured something of a silver lining: the average number of downloaded apps stands at 3.5 per person per month (among those who actually consume apps, of course). Word of mouth drives a quarter of all app discovery, perhaps giving hope to those indie developers without massive budgets to promote their latest products. How can developers counter these macro-trends? Many have begun shifting toward more subscription-centric models. Apple and Google (which control the two biggest mobile-app stores on the market) are facilitating this transition by allowing more categories of apps to adopt paid-subscription models, and giving developers additional subscription-related revenue opportunities. By pouring their energies into earning cash from a steady stream of updates and add-ons, rather than wholly new apps, developers can perhaps ensure a more consistent revenue flow (not to mention a longer lifespan for their apps). However, that doesn’t wholly eliminate the challenges that developers face when it comes to discovery; with millions of apps crowding the respective e-stores, it’s more difficult than ever for any one product to stand out, especially if it’s not produced by a huge brand.