Reports of the Demise of New Successful Apps Are Greatly Exaggerated
Nielsen recently published a report, picked up by websites such as TechCrunch, that suggests there "may" be an upper limit to how many apps people will interact with in a month, and that number is limited to just over a couple dozen apps.
TechCrunch draws the following conclusion: “It’s bad news for the young companies trying to establish a foothold and core group of dedicated, engaged and loyal users within the ever-expanding app universe.”
While the report remains factual on current mobile-app-usage insights, the conclusions that TechCrunch draws are baseless.
If you’re a budding app entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall prey to such reports, which are misleading and don’t understand the core of entrepreneurship. Let me highlight a couple of things the article implies that shouldn’t bother you:
Competition. The report assumes there’s too much competition and that’s bad news for entrepreneurs. Really? Didn’t Google launch amidst stiff competition? Didn’t Facebook do the same? These are in the mass market, but what about Wolfram Alpha, which is in a niche?
People typically don’t use multiple search engines to look up something on the net. Yet they had many choices such as Altavista, Yahoo and more when Google came along.
To stay within the universe of apps, let’s look at GolfLogix. It's currently the number-one app for golf players with over 5 million downloads. It’s highly successful, even though you may not have heard about it, or even if you did, may not have it as part of the apps you use regularly.
Similarly, have you heard about Glenn Harrold’s Relax and Sleep Well app? Chances are you haven’t, but the app has over 2 million downloads and continues to generate consistent and growing revenues for the entrepreneur.
I could go on. The point I’m trying to make is that if you’re solving a problem for a set of users/customers, it doesn’t matter whether there is competition in the space. You just have to build a better product!
Generic customer. Not all customers are the same. The report by Nielson just presents the fact of averages. A customer whose interest lies in sports will have a different stack of apps from those that are passionate about music.
Depending on the industry you are catering to, your app will find space in your customer’s phone if you offer a better enough solution to their problem than the existing apps do.
Do not take the report at face value and assume that all customers have the same type of apps on their device. Sure, there may be a few common ones, but those would number around six to eight apps at most.
In its conclusion, TechCrunch adds that the challenge is not so much about installation, but how to build one of the frequently-used apps.
Seriously? Isn’t that what any or every business is about? That’s what building a product in any vertical is all about. Products are built to replace earlier (less effective) solutions or to fulfill needs that were left unattended.
If I were in your shoes looking at building apps, I wouldn’t be worried about such reports. In fact, I’d be focused deeply on building my product and finding a product-market fit rather than be consumed about how many apps a user would use on his or her phone in a month.