Everyone dreams of building the next multi-million-user app that will bring fame (and money) for the team and the company.
If you’re making plans to develop a new app in 2016, and you have no clue what kind of app will appeal to users, the best place to start from is looking at the statistics of the mobile app industry in 2015. This will give you insights on where the trends are heading, what will users be looking for, and which app categories are the most likely to take the lead in download and usage in the year to come.
A report released by the Yahoo-owned mobile analytics firm Flurry found a 58% increase in mobile app usage in 2015. Usage is defined by the number and duration of sessions in apps. Although the number shows a slight ebb in comparison to 2014 (with 76% app growth), it is stunning nonetheless. And what’s more important is that 40% of the 58% came from existing users, which means mobile users are spending more and more time with their apps.
Which app categories are leading the market?
It’s no use developing an app that is going to have no audience – so you must know in advance what users are looking for. The following graph, which comes from the Flurry report, shows that most app categories – with the strange exception of games – have enjoyed improved usage in the past year.
Personalization apps lead the pack, mainly owing their success to the rise of Emoji apps (keyboards, specifically), which allow users to take their experience with messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to the next level. A perfect example was Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji app, which topped the charts both in Apple’s App Store and Google Play on the first day.
Next in line are news and magazine apps, which are enjoying more success as media consumption continues to shift toward mobile devices.
Also, as smartphones, tablets, and phablets move toward becoming the main computing devices for students and employees, utility apps such as email and document collaboration/sharing gobble up more of users’ time on their mobile devices. This includes apps such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office, and Slack.
And with mobile inching its way toward dominating online commerce, shopping apps are being visited and used more often than before. Technologies such as Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay are being integrated at more and more retailers across the world, accelerating the pace of mobile shopping. In fact, the App Store even decided to allocate a separate category to mobile payment apps.
Which device types are most active?
Among different device types, phablets are seeing the most growth in usage and sales in comparison to other device types, which include small and medium phones on one end and tablets on the other.
Why is this important to know? Well, knowing what devices your users are more likely to use will help you make better decisions about the design and features of your app.
Phone screens are too small, tablets are too large, but phablets strike the right balance and size. They have larger displays than phones, which make them excellent for reading news and watching videos, and at the same time they’re smaller than tablets, which makes them convenient enough to be carried around everywhere. In light of this information, you can conclude that users will expect your apps to be more media-extensive, so that they can take full advantage of the large, bright real-estate that their device offers. This validates the growing trend of media consumption on phablets in comparison to all other devices combined, which can be seen in the following graph.
Where do you go from here?
These numbers and figures can surely help you in making choices. If you’re thinking about defying the norms and coming up with a totally new idea that will have its own bar in next year’s charts, I’d be glad to hear about it as well. But whatever you do, never forget to be a user first: know who your users are, what they like, what they hold in their hands and what are the capabilities of their devices.
So will your next app be an Emoji sensation, or you will you develop the next successful news app? I’m interested in hearing your opinion – let me know in the comments below.