My App Addiction: Why We Never Try Something New From Google Play?

As they say: the older the wine, the better it tastes. But what about mobile apps? Do they become better as they age? Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But odds are you're still using the ones that you've downloaded 5 or 7 years ago. Does it mean that the mobile app market is overcrowded and has exhausted its potentiality to bring something new and worthy into our lives?  

Can't Teach the Old Phone New Tricks...

Studios and independent developers keep releasing new apps regularly. However, most of them have to slither at the bottom of Google Play or App Store like rock lobsters. For example, Google Play's number of downloadable apps has exceeded 2 million[1] recently. Yet in the Top 30 we see the old, familiar titles: Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Dropbox, WhatsApp etc.

Guess there's nothing to be done with the force of habit. That and also the fact that the old top applications follow the all-in-one model, offering versatile functionality. For instance:

  •  Snapchat has instant messages, photo beautifying tools and bitmojis.
  • Instagram, apart from a photo-sharing service, has also become a digital boutique.
  •  Facebook features e-stores, a payment system, online games and so forth.

It may appear that people won't want to install apps that provide the same functionality separately. Partly it is true: as researches by the likes of App Annie[2] show, people do tend to neglect apps that's been around for 2-3 years. This is why we won't see a substitute for mobile YouTube any time soon.

However, there's a little catch. Meanwhile, behemoth-apps do offer a giant number of features, they miss one thing: finesse in details. Sure, Snapchat or Instagram can make lousy photos look fabulous. But they lack subtle functionality of Photoshop Mobile, Canva or Pixlr. WhatsApp is a #1 messenger in the world, but it lacks security means of lesser-known Signal, Telegram and Wickr. In turn, none of them can replace Zello — an app, which turns your gadget into a walkie-talkie.

The lesson is this: it's unlikely a freshly designed app will become a sensation overnight, as it could do years ago. And probably it'll fail to make it to the Top 30 or even Top 300. But upcoming developers shouldn't be discouraged — there's always something that big-name apps miss in their services. Capitalize on that, instead of slavishly copying their success formula and core features.

hand holding a smartphone with a social networks apps on the screen

Gaming sector refuses to be stale

As for mobile games — things are quite different here. In Top 30, for both iOS and Android, you will see new titles debuting every week. Where Angry Birds' reign was once unrivalled, you will see such names as PUBG Mobile, Minecraft, Fortnite, Bloons, Coin Master, Geometry Dash [3] and others. And, as practice shows, a mobile game can become a smash hit overnight. Or at least make it to the Top 30 and build a steady fandom. Indie game Alto's Adventure and its newly released sequel Alto's Odyssey are living proof.

Explanation to this Apps vs. Games dichotomy is simple: people expect from the apps they use daily to perform 1 or 2 functions properly. And that's it. It's like buying a weed-whacker — as long as it serves its sole purpose, you won't think about getting a new one. The situation is a bit different with games: there are so many genres to try and so many new impressions to get. People rarely get satisfied with playing the same few time-killers for years and years.

The big name-apps will dominate the mobile industry for years to come. If you dream of designing a Facebook killer, then you'd better come up with another idea. These services are tightly integrated into our lives, just like Walmart, 7-11, Starbucks, Home Depot etc. But it doesn't mean new apps don't deserve to be successful. It's just about finding the right niche. And specialized apps which do only one thing, but they do it very good and professionally, could be the answer.