As a new year’s resolution last month I embarked upon an App cull.
That is to say I deleted any app from my iPhone that I either hadn’t used in the previous month, or apps whose remit I deemed was to just sit there in idle readiness for episodes of emergency boredom such as one might encounter in an airport departure lounge, or on a long train journey.
I also decided that any apps I culled would be welcomed back with open arms on a case-by-case, as needed basis.
A month later and I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things.
- I haven’t added any of the deleted apps back.
- I could have deleted even more of them – usefulness is relative.
- Most of the apps I rely on day-to-day are free.
- I don’t remember the last time I actually bought an app. It’s been months.
The four pages of apps on my iPhone 5 contain 76 apps – as an aside I can remember a time when if you’d told me I’d one day need 76 apps to run my life I would have thought you were an idiot.
- 23 are system apps that you can’t delete, Contacts, Camera, Mail etc.
- 11 are paid for, including one for train times, a podcasts app, Shazam for identifying music in coffee shops etc., a couple of music apps, Keynote and iMovie.
- The remaining 43 are free apps.
So, I didn’t buy a whopping 85% of the apps I use. (Which is an amusing latter-day take on software piracy).
Then I broke it down another way.
Apparently I have a mild OCD that compels me to organise my apps a certain way. Firstly, those apps fortunate enough to make it onto my homepage are my must-have, do-or-die, Premier League apps. The second division apps live on page two, and so on. Some apps teeter on the demotion/promotion boundary from time to time, but the front page rarely changes.
And it doesn’t stop there.
My homepage apps are then stack ranked and positioned strategically on the basis that the bottom half of the homepage is more useful than the top half (shorter distance for my thumb to travel), and then the bottom right quadrant of my homepage and the persistent dock are like the Whitechapel, London of app real estate. Only the most notorious serial killer of killer apps get to live there; Mail, Twitter, Safari and Settings – a quirk of iOS is that I’m apparently in Settings a lot. (I must confess that on the odd occasion someone else shows me their phone and I happen to note that their personal app arrangement is the smartphone equivalent of Escape From New York, it makes me want to hurt small animals)
Anyway, my somewhat alarming OCD issues aside; only two of my homepage (most valued) apps I actually paid money for, the rest are free or indirectly monetized as mobile companions to paid-for services like banking, Xero or Amazon – or advertising funded like Twitter or Facebook.
So, some six or so years into the App era it appears that apart from some breakthrough gaming companies, the market for getting rich quick by developing discrete apps that only exist in the mobile paradigm is actually quite small.
Even legendary success stories like Angry Birds only lasted a short while on an exclusively mobile platform before devolving backwards to the realm of the PC and other traditional platforms.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think that mobile apps are here to stay – particularly apps that integrate beyond the smartphone.
It’s just that I think the initial App era that exploded onto the scene in 2008 – well its honeymoon is now over and real usefulness and integrated innovation is where it’s at.