No more apps, please

The latest research from ComScore reveals what may be obvious if you think about it: you don’t really want any more apps on your smartphone. One top finding in the report (covered in Slate, Quartz, and probably many other places) is that 65% of smartphone owners in the US downloaded zero apps in a given month. People still spend plenty of time using mobile apps, but that usage is focused on a small number of very popular ones (which you can probably name). Looking at the stats on the share of time spent on various apps, once you’re past Facebook, Pandora, YouTube, and Instagram, no app cracks the 3% barrier (except SnapChat for the 18-24 set).

These data on the concentration of app usage, and the lack of attention to new apps, mirror the findings in the latest VisionMobile developer survey, which looks at mobile apps from the supply side, as it were. Their survey of over 10,000 app developers found that “the majority of app businesses are not sustainable at current revenue levels.” Furthermore,

50% of iOS developers and 64% of Android developers are below the ‘app poverty line” of $500 per app per month. 24% of developers interested in making money earn  nothing at all. A further 23% make less than $100 per app per month.

It’s not surprising that the mobile app market is like so many other media markets: music, movies, books: a very small number of huge hits, followed by a very long, and mostly ignored, tail.

Mobile Diary: successful online ads and other imaginary creatures

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, I recommend The Ad Contrarian, a blog about all things advertising from ad industry veteran Bob Hoffman. This is a great place to read contrarian opinions about online and mobile advertising, and the tendency of advertisers and other marketing types to focus on “youth” markets instead of other demographics (who may have more money to spend).

Here’s a recent post about the lack of real data about any aspect of online advertising. I thought about this after checking out a new feature in Facebook that claims to allow you to opt out of some targeted ads on that service. FB links you to a service (still in beta) that lets you see which companies use behavioral techniques to target ads to you, and opt out of those services.

The fun part for me, especially in the context of the above article (and the related Slate piece it quotes) was visiting the web sites of a bunch of behavioral advertising companies, and seeing how they spin their services and technologies. There seem to be an awful lot of smart (or at least well-educated) people out there applying all sorts of sophisticated computer models to delivering the right ad to you at the right time, all in hopes of increasing click-through rates from negligible to almost-negligible (as I remember, one company trumpeted its success in increasing CTR to 0.42%).

I suppose that as an advertiser, you have to spend your budget on something, but it’s amazing to see how little benefit seems to come from all that analysis.

Mobile diary: who do you trust?

According to the New York Times, Facebook is rolling out an improved social login platform that will let users control how much information they share with sites they log into. Of course, Facebook will still collect lots of info about which sites you choose to connect with, but that’s to be expected. One goal of this, obviously, is to make social login with Facebook preferable to social login with other services (or creating unique accounts for each service) so that Facebook has that much more data and a more important part in your activities on the Web.

Google phone

This got me thinking; I tend to not use social login much, preferring to just set up separate accounts with different services. I’m not sure this really matters, but at least I have the perception that I’m sharing less data that way. When I do set up social login, I generally prefer to use Twitter rather than other services. For some reason, I am less worried about Twitter (compared to Facebook and Google) using my personal data for aggressive marketing and other purposes.

Is this justified? Am I just fooling myself? I’d love to hear what you think.

Note: I included this image (from 2006) in part to commemorate the official closing of the Nokia/Microsoft deal, and the end of the Nokia mobile phone era. I spent 10 years at Nokia, developing software, writing standards, and marketing platforms through the rise and fall of Nokia’s smartphone business. I’m proud of the company and my role in it; I learned a lot and we changed the world.