Thursday, 11 February 2010

App Store marketing

Apples App store is a curious environment to release a product into. With two thirds of app store users browsing directly on their iPhone (rather than on a desktop machine), marketing an app has become as black and white as making sure what’s been delivered stays in the top 25 download charts. Where as this system of filtering apps into top downloads worked reasonably well last year, the increasing influx of apps that hit the virtual shelves every day is literally flooding the market. Put simply the App store has become so saturated with products that it can’t handle the demands of sorting them adequately using its current system.

Towards the end of last year an app store update was implemented that added a further level of filtration for casual browsers. As well as the top 25 free apps and the top 25 paid apps, users can now look at the top 25 highest grossing apps. Whilst the new system does let consumers view which products are genuinely successful (as opposed to products that are released very cheaply in the hope of quickly stealing the much sought after top downloads spot) it still doesn’t get around the problem of free promotional apps not getting noticed. As it currently stands an App released with no prior warning is likely to sink beneath the masses never to be heard of again.

So is the app store gold rush over and done with? Well yes and no. Twelve months ago even the most ill marketed apps where getting noticed. The one-man outfit behind iFart, a rather unsophisticated soundboard application, was making developer Joel Comm £5000 a day. Nowadays the apps that are succeeding (retaining spots in the top 25) are, for the most part, the apps that are marketed outside of the confines of the app store. The Facebook app has consistently remained a top 25 free download because of its online presence on the Facebook web page. Gaming apps (which make up the lions share of app store content) are more and more relying on external online advertising campaigns to compete in a market that may see three or more similar products released per day.

In April we see the release of Apples full sized media tablet and with it a whole new era of digital consumption. With a whole host of new app possibilities the iPad may well see a return to the app gold rush, but until then the clever apps are the ones that recognise their presence outside of the rapidly decaying structure of the app store.

Rory Muldoon