Are Apps on the Way Out?

Most apps are abandoned after only a few uses and data suggests apps are an unsustainable mobile experience.


With the proliferation of smartphones, apps have become the default way to interact with most social sites. Indeed, people are spending more time in apps, and launching their apps more often. And while predictions suggest the growth is likely to continue, there may be data indicating that apps are on their way out.

2014 was the best year for apps yet, with iOS generating more revenue than the Hollywood Film Industry. However, the vast majority of the revenue seems to be generated by a smaller collection of top apps. According to an article from ReadWrite, “50 percent of iOS developers and 64 percent of Android developers are below the ‘app poverty line’ of $500 per app per month.”

App revenues may be high, but there are plenty of casualties along the way. Up to 95 percent of apps are abandoned within a month, and the user retention for any given app could be as low as 12 percent.

So the question becomes: would users download apps if they didn’t have to? They seem to be all too ready to delete any app that doesn’t perform the way they believe it should. However, mobile analytics firm Flurry notes that 86 percent of time spent on mobile is spent in apps as compared to a web browser.

Google and Apple are beginning to invest in the mobile web experience, perhaps in an attempt to respond to the way users are engaging with apps. If most apps are either a losing proposition, or a snacking experience, there may be no need to build full service apps when users are only briefly viewing and responding to notifications.

Paul Adams, former Google employee and current VP of Product at Intercom, sees a world where apps exist merely as shells to push notifications to a central hub on phones. The next version of Android will already have notification “cards” that allow interaction without loading the app.

Adams writes:

Lots and lots of notification cards that enable full product experiences and independent workflows right inside the card. Comment on the Facebook post. Retweet the tweet. Buy the item on Amazon. In a world where notifications are full experiences in and of themselves, the screen of app icons makes less and less sense. Apps as destinations makes less and less sense.

In that world, Yo might be the only app you’ll ever need.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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