We have all heard the numbers: Mobile apps, across all platforms, are already approaching the millions. So once you create a great app and figure out how to monetize it, you still have get your app noticed and downloaded in the oversaturated app ecosystem. Once you have that traction, actually monetizing your app is significantly simpler.
App discovery is tricky, both for users looking for new and interesting apps, and for developers who want to get their app the exposure they believe it deserves.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have Apple (s aapl) or Google (s goog) feature your app – and if you don’t have a limitless marketing budget – there are some good options for you. I talked with three companies tackling the discovery issue, both from the user’s and developer’s perspective, in innovative ways.
Appolicious uses people’s social graphs to help them discover new apps through both an app (for Android and iOS) and a series of websites, including Appolicious.com, AndroidApps.com, and AppVee.com. Its new Android app automatically imports apps into a user’s library and allows users to see what apps their Facebook friends have recently downloaded. On the websites, users can follow their Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo (s yhoo) friends to get more recommendations.
In addition to the social aspect, Appolicious also has an algorithmic search and recommendation engine, as well as a lot of online content such as ratings, reviews, lists, likes, curated reviews, compilations, video reviews and industry news.
Ouriel Ohayon, founder of Appsfire, told me he believes search, as we know it on the web, is practically irrelevant when it comes to apps, since users do not know what they’re searching for. Besides, Ouriel explained, the various app stores are too difficult to browse and not nearly personal enough.
He views app discovery as a complex and multi-sided challenge. To overcome it, he believes companies need to do “more than one thing.” So, just as people discover new music in a few settings such as a club, via friends, or in a shop, Appsfire attacks the issue from a few different angles.
Appsfire is trying to personalize apps, much like Pandora has done for music. The UI shows personal app streams, which is a much more visual experience than the app stores. Continuing the music metaphor, users can create Appmixes and share them with the Appsfire community.
The Appsfire mobile app connects to users’ Facebook accounts to tell them which apps their friends are using, and it also scans a user’s mobile device to recommend similar or related apps.
Originally a social site for mobile developers to connect, interact and share ideas, Appboy recently released Appboy+, its SDK for iOS apps, which brings check-ins to the world of mobile apps. (The company plans to release a version for Android soon.)
When a user opens an app, Appboy+ offers an option to check in to that app. When you check in to an app using Appboy+, your connections across the social web are then notified that you’re using that app.
This has three effects: one for the user, one for the user’s networks and one for the developer.
Users now have a simple and effective way to tell friends what apps they use and like. The user’s network gets app recommendations from a trusted friend who, presumably, shares some interests. But the developer gets the greatest benefit. Not only do developers gets exposure for their apps, but they can see the top users and reward them via badges, promotions and awards. With all the competition in the market, developers can use this to engage their audience and users, which will ultimately help them build a loyal and sticky userbase.
Hillel Fuld is the marketing manager at inneractive, a company that works with mobile developers to generate more revenue from their apps. He also works with Appboy on their social media efforts including their blog, blog.appboy.com. Hillel can be found on Twitter at @hilzfuld and @Inneractive.