A poll conducted by Pew Internet reveals that only three years after the introduction of the iPhone, 1 in 3 adults have software applications on their cell phone – and that 1 in 4 use those apps on a regular basis.
Says co-author of the report, Roger Entner, “This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider that there was no apps culture until two years ago.”
What I found most telling about this report, however, is the fact that only 13% of cell phone users had paid to download an app. This is exactly what I expected would be the case when I was first ironing out the revenue model for my iPhone app company. When APPCityLife was almost ready to submit to Apple for release late last year, I had to make the decision of whether I was going to charge for the app or release it for free download.
I chose free. Not because I didn’t want to make money on the app, since I did found a corporation based on the idea that it would eventually make money, but because I was not convinced that the end user was my real customer. If a business is automatically losing a wide swath of users because of an unwillingness to pay a few dollars for the app, does it really make sense in the long to charge for the app? For some businesses, maybe. But not for a resource application like APPCityLife.
And it seems to be paying off. The app has had continued growth in downloads, and more importantly in usage. I see the true key to breaking the current statistics of usage among apps is providing a useful tool that allows people to do a task easier, better and faster than they could on their own, and that vision drives every decision I make concerning what goes into the app.
I’m especially excited about the brand new Balloon Fiesta Guide that launched this past Sunday. Within an hour of being released on iTunes, the app had over 50 new downloads. Those weren’t current users updating their app; those were brand new users in as far flung locals as Australia, Japan and Germany. As I worked with Balloon Fiesta officials to create content for the guide, the question for every addition was whether it would make the users experience at Balloon Fiesta a better one.
And now to get on with adding more cities to the app…
If you’ve explored the new guide, I’d love your feedback. And, as always, if you have suggestions or ideas of things you’d like to see, I’m always happy to hear from you.