In a recent article I read on Quartz (article here), a study by comScore finds that the average smartphone user downloads ZERO apps per month! Now, I don’t know whether or not this study would hold under statistical scrutiny but let’s take for granted that it is somewhat accurate. What does this mean for what we want to develop? We all have that app idea in our heads that we might work on in our spare time. Does this mean it’s not worth it? Should we scrap the idea of building an app to release into the App Stores?
Let’s go back in time to another example. If you’re old enough to remember, we used to buy our Software in boxes at Computer Stores. They cost a lot of money and we were subject to things like availability of copies and store hours and geography. But then companies like id Software did something curious. They would sell their games online. Granted, you had to call them or send in an order form, but nonetheless they weren’t beholden to retail outlets. Fast-forward to today where you are hard-pressed to find any boxed Software in stores.
So let’s go back to the original question, is it worth developing an app and releasing it on the App Store? Well, of course it is. The App Store is not a medium in of itself. It’s simply a distribution platform. Most of the Top 25 apps are from companies that started outside of the App Store. Examples like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It’s common knowledge that the App Store has terrible discovery. This means that audience building occurs not within the App Store but on the outside. Sure you have examples like Flappy Bird that seem to strike it big overnight, but that app is gone now. The companies who produce apps you see consistently in the top lists are ones that treat the App Store simply as a means to an end. They would still be in business even if Apple collapsed.