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It may not be a list with many surprises, but the official top App Store downloads of 2008 still makes for interesting reading. Posted by Apple early this morning and available to view in iTunes, the list of chart-toppers is divided into most downloaded overall, and features top ten lists for five of the App Store’s categories: Games, Entertainment, Utilities, Social Networking and Music.
The lists appear as part of the iTunes Store 2008 year-in-review mini-site, which also features the most popular movies, songs, TV shows, and podcasts. Of course, the items on each list differ according to which region you’re in. The list discussed here is that found in the U.S. version.
Topping the paid list is Koi Pond, which is no surprise, considering that it looked for a while as though it were going to claim a permanent place atop the popular paid apps chart. Also making the cut are launch racers and other games like Moto Chaser, Crash Bandicoot, Cro-Mag Rally, Enigmo and Super Monkey Ball. In fact, Recorder is the sole utility app on the list, suggesting that when it comes to the iPhone and iPod touch, amusement is the primary driving force behind purchases.
By contrast, the list of top free apps contains only two real games, and one game-like time waster (Lightsaber Unleashed). The ever popular Pandora tops the chart, and a number of useful, though very different apps also appear, like Facebook, Remote, and Shazam.
The difference between the two lists is telling. It suggests that people are much more likely to spend money on games than on apps with functional value, but that consumers are glad to grab more useful apps when they’re offered for free. Another possibility is that consumers attach more perceived value to paid games, since, thanks to the console market, a clear precedent of paying for quality development in that area is well established.
The list is well worth a look. Factors like time available in the App Store seem to have had an effect, but latecomers like Line Rider iRide prove that isn’t the only thing at play. Also, the success of some apps like MobileChat raise questions about hype vs. ratings as driving downloads. Check it out and see how your download history matches up.