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.