iPhone App Downloads Are Up. What About Their Usage?

The iPhone App Store is red hot: In its first month, more than 60 million software programs were downloaded, and it generated about $1 million a day in sales. That information comes from Steve Jobs in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. In his interview, Jobs says the developers took home $21 million in the first month, of which $9 million went to the top 10 developers. One of the biggest selling app: Sega Corp’s $9.99 Super Monkeyball game, which sold more than 300,000 copies in 20 days. (iPhone as a gaming platform isn’t such a crazy idea after all!) [digg=http://digg.com/apple/iPhone_App_Downloads_Are_Up_but_Not_Their_Usage]

About 10 million apps were downloaded in the first week of the launch of the Apps Store. Jobs said that Apple takes 30 percent of the total sales and that covers the costs associated with keeping the App store running, including the cost of credit card transactions. “This thing’s going to crest a half a billion, soon…Who knows, maybe it will be a $1 billion marketplace at some point in time,” he told the Journal. Jobs said that going forward, in the world of mobile phones, the differentiating factor is going to be software.

The big question about the Apps store is whether downloads are going translate into actual and sustained usage of these apps.

Downloads Yes, Usage – Maybe

I have downloaded nearly three dozen apps: Loopt, Where, Nearby, Shozu, WordPress, Twinkle, Shazam, NetNewsWire, MLB At Bat and Facebook being amongst the most notable ones. Only Twinkle, Facebook, NetNewsWire andShozu are truly worth using on a daily basis. The MLB At Bat’s video (over 3G) is simply deplorable.

I wondered if I was the odd man out here, downloading and then not using the apps. To get some clarity, I asked Greg Yardley, founder of New York City-based Pinch Media, a startup that has developed analytics for iPhone apps.

Using the caveat that only a few app makers were using the Pinch Analytics library, he pointed out that as per their data, the ratio of free downloads to paid downloads is at least 10:1. He also said that the pace of downloads is slowing, which is expected because the early rush is behind us. According to data collected by Pinch Media, on average, less than 20 percent of an application’s overall unique users return to an application each day. Yardley also pointed out that people are using the apps for just under five minutes at a time, on average. The majority only use the applications once per day; the average number of uses per day is around 1.2.

Looks like I am not the only one who is getting bored with some of the more blah apps. Phew!

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