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We're Just Not That Into You, iPhone Apps 205

Posted by timothy
from the 99-percent-of-everything dept.
maximus1 writes "A new report compiled by iPhone analytics firm Pinch Media finds the majority of people stop using apps the day after they download them, and only 1 percent develop a long-term relationship with any given app. Instead, most tend to lose interest after a few minutes, according to this article. Paid apps fare slightly better. 30% of the people downloading a paid app return the next day compared to 20% who download a free app. No surprises that the survey found that apps that focused on games and entertainment seem to outlast other categories when it comes to long-term love."
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We're Just Not That Into You, iPhone Apps

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  • Freebies (Score:5, Funny)

    by jetsci (1470207) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @06:42PM (#26944333) Homepage Journal
    So...you're saying we should charge for EVERYTHING to maintain interest?

    /me charges girlfriend $20 for sex...
  • by onion2k (203094) * on Saturday February 21, 2009 @06:48PM (#26944367) Homepage

    I'm an avid buyer of iPhone apps and games. I get dozens every week. And, yes, just as the article asserts I rarely return to them after a day or two. There are exceptions, such as Tweetie (I'm utterly addicted to Twitter, see sig (and follow me!)), and a few great games (Trism, Enigmo, GeoDefence), but the majority I see as throwaway stuff.

    Which is fine.

    These apps are priced to be treated like that. It's a return to the PD and shareware library ethos of old (old? I mean late 80s/early 90s). I remember paying a buck or two for a disk with a raft of simple, mostly awful Commadore Amiga games. Fred Fish anyone?

    It's pretty much the same thing. There were gems on those disks occasionally. There are gems in the App Library. Long may it continue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I just used twitter for the first time this morning. What the fuck is the point of that website? Even the 'official' twitter feeds were stupid & had no content....

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) *
      What do you expect? Although only the owner of an iPhone for a brief period of time due to AT&T's inability to deal with something as complex as the dreaded "family plan", I've looked at the app store on occasion and have been completely and thoroughly underwhelmed. A couple of useful apps. A bunch of total crap.

      I imagine that most of the things are impulse downloads or purchases, done when there isn't anything better to do and then ignored until it becomes time to clean the things out.

      When I swi
    • >>>It's a return to the PD and shareware library ethos of old (old? I mean late 80s/early 90s). I remember paying a buck or two for a disk with a raft of simple, mostly awful Commadore Amiga games. Fred Fish anyone?
      >>>

      I agree. Except for the "paying" part. Everything on my C=64 and Amiga came from downloads, and I never bought anything legally except for Sid Meier's Pirates. The Fred Fish discs were available for free from my local BBS, and yes they were mostly filled with junk.

      I only r

    • by cowscows (103644)

      Meh, it never even really went away on the desktop either. I'm killing time browsing version tracker or whatever, see something that looks like it could potentially be useful/interesting/entertaining, and I download it. Most of the time it's not really what I had hoped, and it goes to the trash. Occasionally it seems useful, and I tuck it away in my applications folder. And sometimes I'll even end up using it again.

      Like you said, it's all about price. For free or maybe even a buck, you might as well try it

    • by AndyElf (23331)

      Amen, brother. I have 7 screens of apps on my iPhone, many of which I seldom use. There're also, maybe, 5-7 apps I have removed from iPhone, most of which I paid for (within $4 each, I think). There are a few apps I still keep on the phone simply because I think I **might** need them (e.g. PCalc, HearPlanet, iTalk, Sketches). There're also those that I use, but rarely -- since they serve a certain purpose like: show-off (PocketGuitar, MiniPiano), getting stuff on and off the phone (Air Sharing), sharing

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      These apps are priced to be treated like that. It's a return to the PD and shareware library ethos of old (old? I mean late 80s/early 90s). I remember paying a buck or two for a disk with a raft of simple, mostly awful Commadore Amiga games. Fred Fish anyone?

      Remember that the "buck or two" you paid was ostensibly for the media, copying service and other work by the person who ran the PD/shareware "library" service- nothing more.

      Generally none of that money went to the people who actually wrote the software; registering shareware was a different process. (*)

      The modern equivalent might be paying for the cost of running a library/download site and the download bandwidth itsef, though even allowing for the fact that modern downloads are much larger, the cost is

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      It's a return to the PD and shareware library ethos of old (old? I mean late 80s/early 90s). I remember paying a buck or two for a disk with a raft of simple, mostly awful Commadore Amiga games. Fred Fish anyone?

      Not really - the point is that these applications and games were freely distributable, and before the Internet, you were paying to cover the costs of distributing the material on disks. It's no different to buying Linux on CD.

      Poor quality shareware (or rather, crippleware/trialware) was more a probl

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Samschnooks (1415697) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @06:58PM (#26944443)
    Impulse buying! Kinda like that $999 "I'm rich" application or whatever it was. It's typical of ...

    Alrighty.

    I'm stopping myself now because, to be honest, I really, really want to post something that's, well, "Flamebait" or "Troll" to Apple users. It's an issue of mine. I was an abused child.

    It might be that I'm jealous of folks with the discretionary income to buy those stylish electronic gizmos that really aren't necessary for everyday life or for life in general. Or for the fact that I have Back Turtle Neck envy. I wish I could look as good as Jobs in one of those.I wish I could look that good balding! unlike Jobs who looks cool balding, I look like a dog with bad mange.

    Oh, never mind!

    • by Sapphon (214287)

      Or for the fact that I have Back Turtle Neck envy.

      I, too, wish the back of my neck were protected by a hard protective shell. It might provide protection from the objects people fling at me when I point out their orthographical errors.

      As it is, I rely on *ducks*

    • by slyn (1111419)

      It might be that I'm jealous of folks with the discretionary income to buy those stylish electronic gizmos that really aren't necessary for everyday life or for life in general.

      If all I did was spend money on things that were necessary for everyday life I would certainly have more money that I do now, but I wouldn't be as happy.

      That's not to say that money always does buy happiness, but its worth the cash to go out on a nice dinner with my friends every once in a while, or drop some dough on whatever the new game of the month is, or spend some scrilla on some random class at the nearby community college to learn something new, or shell out some clams on your car to get a better on

    • It might be that I'm jealous of folks with the discretionary income to buy those stylish electronic gizmos that really aren't necessary for everyday life or for life in general.

      Do you drink? Go out to movies? What about restaurants? Do you own a car? Do you ever travel? Do you subscribe to cable?

      I'd say there's a 99% chance that you do plenty of things that other people would consider "unnecessary" for everyday life. So why attack people who choose a different use for the money they work for than you

  • by gelfling (6534) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @06:59PM (#26944447) Homepage Journal

    The Apps store has a lot of junk. Quite a few apps are buggy. Some are interesting. The business apps are typically tied to third party services. Some are only interesting for 10 minutes. And some have a great deal of potential that's unrealized.

    For instance I'd love a restaurant locator app that works outside of San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

    • Yeah, I was looking around on some sites yesterday for a meditation timer and there seems to be a huge number of novelty apps. The last one that comes to mind is one that creates neat effects using your voice. There's huge potential for really great killer apps and even more simply useful apps, but there also seems to be a much higher number of novelty and rather lame apps compared to what you'd find on the desktop. Not to mention all the games. Still, there are quite a few good apps out there considering h

    • by houghi (78078)

      For instance I'd love a restaurant locator app that works outside of San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

      There already is one. It is called map.google.com

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A lot of apps provide the same info you can get from a website or web app. And as long as that site works on Safari on the iPhone, there's not much reason to install an app just for that task.

    It's not that the apps aren't useful, but rather after you download the app you find that it's just as easy to accomplish the task like you've always done it before you downloaded the app.

    • by iamhigh (1252742)

      A lot of apps provide the same info you can get from a website or web app. And as long as that site works on Safari on the iPhone, there's not much reason to install an app just for that task.

      I'll try to give the AC a little karma boost. I agree totally. Oooooohhhh, I can figure out how to split the bill!!! Or just open a calc and multiply by 1.2 (for tip) and divide by 5. Yeah I really needed an app JUST for that.

    • Some apps are just repackaging of websites (NY Times, Yelp, Google Maps, etc.), but that isn't all bad. They can take advantage of the GPS as an app, and the interface is tailored to the device. But I agree that a lot of apps are mostly gimmicks.

    • "A lot of apps provide the same info you can get from a website or web app. And as long as that site works on Safari on the iPhone, there's not much reason to install an app just for that task."

      Sounds like what XUL was made for.

  • Stereotypes (Score:3, Funny)

    by matt_martin (159394) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @07:21PM (#26944619) Homepage Journal

    Must ... resist ... snide ... Apple ... userbase ... comment ... argh ... ugh...

  • Of all the apps they watched how many were mainly a gimmick? A friend of mine downloaded an app that turns the screen into a small keyboard, how useful is that? He has a bunch of other apps he played with once and forgot they are even on his iphone. He mainly uses it for Google maps, the internet browser and a face book app. Other then that they are all mostly useless gimmicks.

    • Further...how many have daily useful purposes? I have a bunch of apps I've downloaded that I use regularly, but not every day...Shazam (for tagging music, might use it once every week or so), Around Here (for finding a place to eat, only really use it when I'm out of town). Worldview (for viewing webcams, I only use it when the snow's bad and I want to see what my route home is like). As you point out, most free apps are either trials or gimmicks that won't see long term usage.
    • I've already posted or I'd mod you up.

      Think about what kinds of apps actually install these analytics packages. Few serious apps would do so, not wanting analytics overhead to tinker with the app performance (or at least that is why I've not been interested in integrating third party analytics into my application).

  • There are a couple of extremely useful apps, but think about it. The majority of those free or $1-$2 apps have extremely limited scope and utility, and dare I say purpose as well. Seriously, an app that animates a zippo? Lightsaber sound effects triggered by the motion sensors in the iPhone? Come on, like those are supposed to amuse anybody for longer than 5 or 6 minutes.
  • between this and any other portable applications like say, games.

    My DSlite has been sitting on a pile of PS2 games for the past five months collecting dust along with all the games I bought for it. It's a giant stack of good games I've played/been meaning to play/shoved in my face to play, yet there they are. Not to mention that I had carried my DS for 3 months with me before I realized I wasn't playing it.

    Oh, but during the first 4 months of me owning that system you bet I played the crap out of it.
    • I use DSLinux for maintenance of my servers.. You know, logs and stuff. It's nice to have a handheld easy to use Linux available. Too bad it has no MMU. I also use the TI-83+ emulator called WabbitDS, along with a algebra system called EigenMathDS.

      I also have a M3 DS Real with a 4gb card, so I can also play any rom listed on romulation.net

      Yeah.. 200$ = linux + calculator + web browser + IM + VOIP + all ds games.

  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker (132337) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @07:45PM (#26944789) Homepage

    You got your app and the author got paid. What is the problem here again?

  • To a pre-2.0 state.

    All the applications developed by the underground iphone community, well 99% of them, were broken and abandoned when 2.0 came out.

    Why would I want these older applications when there is now an apple store to provide most of the functionality of these applications? I loved having a chat client that would run in the background. I loved having my iradio, my wedict, my ebook reader (and a ton of ebook sources for easy install on the go.) my video recorder, my ssh client, my voice recorder
    • The iphone can be a very open platform, and a good one at that. It just needs people to move from the official SDK and create ones own; to forgo the rules imposed. To make whatever one wants...

      Are you going to make it possible to be paid doing that?

  • I'm not sure why this is news to anybody. I've downloaded a lot of apps, and I will often times trash them after the first few uses. They were free, and as an app developer in training (still working on my first app), I was curious to see how they worked. Sure there's a lot of junk on there, but one thing often overlooked is that many people who write apps will be constantly updating the features of their apps. I bought Solebon for $.99 when they advertised a sale on their free version called Sol Free. That
  • Or could it be that people just want a phone and not some kind of do-it-all gadget?

    Call me old fashioned, but I've never understood this obsession people have with making their cellphone do tricks and whatnot. It's a phone. Its purpose is to make phone calls. If you want more capability, get a laptop.

    • by tehshen (794722)

      My laptop doesn't fit in my pocket. My phone does.

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        My laptop doesn't fit in my pocket. My phone does.

        My Netbook fits in my jacket pocket. I love it.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:29PM (#26945421) Journal

      It's a phone. Its purpose is to make phone calls. If you want more capability, get a laptop.

      A mobile phone is a device that most people will have on them pretty much all the time. And if you are carrying it around anyway, why not use it:
      - to make pictures (you don't carry a camera around all the time, do you? neither do I, but I use my phone all the time to make snaps of notes on whiteboards and such).
      - to manage your agenda and to-do list (instead of having to carry around a separate organiser or diary).
      - to look up stuff on the internet (The apps with the Dutch train schedule and road conditions are ones that I use pretty much every day, on the go).
      - to find directions? (we're men; god forbid that we should have to *ask* someone).

      Come to think of it, I don't actually make that many calls on my iPhone. But even that functionality is there when I need it, and for all that I have to carry around just one tiny, lightweight device. I for one am glad that the functionality of phones has been expanded, the latest meaningful change (to me) being always-on internet that is actually usable.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      I need a phone with a web browser. Its power, thats why. Youre like the guy I knew who was poo-pooing the internet in 96. No, its not a fad, its not just for movie trailers, and "pick up a phonebook" isnt the same.

    • Call me old fashioned

      You're old fashioned. Besides, iPhones share applications with the iPod Touch, which starts at around $230 and never needs a service contract. I bought one so I can run all the fun iPhone apps without actually having to have an iPhone.

    • You're just old fashioned ;)

      Why would I want to carry a laptop around with me all the time for tasks that can be easily done on something the size of a phone?

  • Would all those "Apple user, ha-ha" posters look stupid if we also had the data for other platforms? Because we all know that stuff downloaded from Sourceforge will be used at least a decade, right? Do Jamba (sorry, "Jamster") downloads get a longer usage because they are so expensive?
  • by zullnero (833754) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:12PM (#26945331) Homepage
    I remember so well the proto-economy that was the PDA application marketplace. Virtually the same were present back then as well, but now it's all news all over again. Now, with a big online app store, it's just a more widespread thing.

    Hopefully people won't think the only way to solve that problem will be web based apps (keyword there is "based", not locally hosted web apps masquerading as native apps). They work great on a desktop, but they will always suck on mobile phones. Just how it is with a small form factor.
    • I have a good dozen apps on my Palm that I use on a regular basis. But then I didn't get it until January 2000, so I never had to put up with the sucky apps you hated back in 1999.

    • by afedaken (263115) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:37PM (#26945455) Homepage

      I think that the revolutionary change that Apple brings to this situation is the accessibility. For Palm, and WinMob, a PC was usually necessary to install new applications. (Not sure about BlackBerry, Symbian, or the other common Phone OS environments.)

      For an iPhone user it's 2 taps and maybe a password, and boom, there's your app. Microsoft has obviously seen what this means for users; they have an app store coming. Google made it a launch feature for Android too, and IIRC even Nokia will be getting into the act for Symbian.

      • by Tintivilus (88810)

        For Palm, and WinMob, a PC was usually necessary to install new applications. (Not sure about BlackBerry, Symbian, or the other common Phone OS environments.)

        Now I'm all for bashing Windows Mobile, but let's not get too hasty. I'm on my second WinMob phone and I did all my application installs on both either over the air (download the .cab file with the browser) or from a memory card (.cab copied from PC or different phone). A PC isn't even remotely necessary to install applications.

  • If you've developed a "long term relationship" with your iFarting app, it probably isn't because you paid for it.
  • Depends. I've not downloaded a lot of apps, but only a few remain. A lot get deleted because I down load 2 - 3 freebies for a task and then keep the one I like best, usually purchasing the "pro" version if available. That's what I did for an RPN calculator. (I really wish someone would develop an HP48 emulator) .

    But I have a whole screen of apps that I bought that I don't use on a daily basis. They are an SSH terminal, RDP, and VNC client. I don't use them "everyday", but in a pinch they come in hand

  • The only applications on my desktop/laptop that I use on a daily basis are Apple Mail, Firefox, iTunes, and Adium. I'm not a major hunter for new cool utilities or applications (partly as a holdover from using Windows, unless I REALLY need what an application does, I don't bother with it) but even then that's 60 other things in my Applications directory that see little if any use (though a fair few of them are pre-installed iApps I never would bothered to have installed in the first place, and other 'built

  • Pandora Rocks, rolls, jazzes and classics it up... even if 99% of what comes out is meaningless fluff for 99% of people, there will be killers like Pandora that most everyone can use, and super super niche stuff that's awesome for 1/10,000 iPhone owners and useless to the rest. That's the beauty of a "programmable" device, unlike the Moto815eVerizonLockedPieceOfStuff that I carry - it has some decent basic software, but could be sooooooo much more if it were open for people to get the most out of the plat
  • by luwain (66565) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:11PM (#26945885)

    Perhaps this survey only concentrated on iPhone users and not iPod Touch users. Perhaps those who have iPhones are not as interested in apps as they are in communication. I've found that most iPod Touch users (of which I and my 12-year-old son are) usually fill up there iPods with multiple pages of apps. Though I have bought apps, I would say that most of the apps I have are free. I had jailbroken my iPod Touch previous to the creation of the app store. If the app store didn't offer free apps along with the paid ones, it's possible I would have kept my iPod jailbroken. I haven't tired of many apps, and I use some apps everyday (like Chess Genius, iSports, iReversi, Sudoku, Facebook, WorldWiki, Maps, Stocks, etc...). Other apps like Guitar Chords aren't really the kind of app you use everyday, but are nice to have when you need them. So I dispute the claims of this survey. I think "we" are very much into appstore apps. I wonder if these are the findings of a envious HP iPaq owner or a "Zune Person"...

  • Here are iPhone apps I use almost every day:

    1) Light. Yes, I use my iPhone as a flashlight more than I like to admit
    2) i41CX+ RPN calculator
    3) Files, which I often use to store reference PDFs for work, and I always keep an NYC subway map on it.
    4) Shazam, which I've used to figure out what a huge number of songs on the radio were
    5) The Weather Channel, when the Appleweather isn't enough (radar + NWS warnings)

    Things I've used once or twice:
    Panolab - sure, its fun, three times maybe
    TouchTerm - interesting to

  • Holy crap! Find me a bunch of free applications where this ISN'T true.

    Goddamn, 90% of the stuff I try for the first time via apt gets shitcanned five minutes later.

  • But it was just an example.

  • As an iPhone owner myself, I know the apps I keep coming back to very regularly (and have been using for almost a year now, non-stop) are NOT the games, but rather, the information-related apps.

    For example, the AP Wire News program, is great. I read the daily news with it all the time when I'm waiting someplace in line or what-not.

    Many of the other apps I keep on my iPhone and like a lot are simply "special purpose" programs I wouldn't have a use for very often, but they're really nice to have when the nee

  • I bought Galcon after it went down to $4.99 and haven't looked back since. I play it daily online. I didn't even realize online gaming was possible with the iPhone but they nailed it. It's the one game I've played on the iPhone that I really feel just can not be duplicated on a normal PC. Playing it with a keyboard and mouse would feel awkward, in my opinion.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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