iPhone apps: many bought, not as many used


Itunesappstore_2Om shares some info today on the wildly popular iTunes AppStore that’s worth a closer look because it underscores a theme I’ve been harping on since day one. According to Steve Jobs in a Wall Street Journal interview, the AppStore has seen over 60 million application downloads. No question that’s a phenomenal number, one that we can’t easily compare to sales on other platforms since those sales aren’t centralized, but phenomenal nonetheless. Here’s where it gets interesting though.

Pinch Media shared some data with Om that shows fewer than 20% of all apps are used once per day. That doesn’t mean that 80% of all apps purchased are "wasted money", but for a device that most people are carrying everywhere, it tells me that a good chunk of the purchased apps aren’t getting used on a daily basis. Great numbers from the AppStore aside, I’d like to see how many apps people have bought that they aren’t using, i.e.: they’re wishing they hadn’t spent the money.

I’ve been very cautious when buying apps for this very reason. Without free trials, which I’m used to on other platforms, I simply don’t want to waste money for an application that doesn’t meet my expectations. The AppStore has made it very easy and seamless to purchase software, which is great. It also makes it far too easy to thrown money down the drain for an apps that simply take up space on your device.


Gordon Cahill

Well 60 million apps for 30 million dollars = 50 cents per app average. So it’s obvious that the majority are free apps as that’s lower than what the cheapest app costs and takes into account the 8 geniuses that bought “i am rich” :-)

I agree with Christopher. I have apps thast I never intended to use every day, free and paid, same as I did on WinMo. BUT, when I want them they are invaluable. The tide tool for example, and the free maze game I downloaded purely for the kids to play occassionaly.

After all do you use all the apps on your main PC everyday. I have software that I paid thousands for that doesn’t get daily use on my pc, so if I don’t use a .99 app on my iphone it’s not the end of the world.



I haven’t really read the original source, but your story says 60 million downloads. I’d say that doesn’t support the headline “many bought…” because we don’t know how many of the 60 million were actually free apps. For example, I have so far downloaded maybe 15 apps and paid for exactly one. Got my iPhone on Friday. Without trials I’ll expect this ratio to continue…


This is interesting (though vague) data, but honestly, how many apps can anyone use daily? Urbanspoon is awesome, but it gets the job done in less than five minutes and I don’t go out to eat every day. Same with Evernote since I use it primarily for photo and short voice notes. I hardly think daily use and duration are accurate metrics for utility. Besides, if I spent five minutes each day on each app, I’d lose more than an hour a day.

Christopher Spera

I agree, James. I pick up a lot of free apps; and I’ve only purchased 2 apps from the AppStore (Crash Bandecoot, and NetShare) for this very reason. The description and screen shots will never be able to take the place of a test drive.


Appke needs to prioritize updates over new releases. RIght now its taking far too long to get the fixes we need to make many of the apps stable and more useful. Free Trials would be in my opinion pretty useless right now as well. The apps are too green and anything you buy right now is more about how you feel about the developer e.g. will they be around to see this app grow into a real product? Its becoming all too common for me to see app descriptions that say “Version 1.1 already submitted to Apple please wait to install/review the app until you get 1.1, version 1.2 already submitted with these improvements….” under these conditions what good is a free trial?

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