There has been a lot of talk about apps generally not doing well. There may be truth in the matter.
Let’s take my mother, a classic example of someone who plays Candy Crush (made by King, whom are now public listed in London). She plays this mainly on her iPad, but also on her iPhone.
Life began quite simply by just playing the game. She got up to nearly level 500, and she only made 3 in-app purchases. Countless hours of entertainment, for what amounts to 3×0.99 cents. You don’t get much for $3 these days.
Then suddenly with the help of automatic app updates (and the fact that the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) needs to increase for earnings), she was required to login with Facebook finally.
She did, and started from scratch!!! Nearly 500 up there, and starting from scratch. You can’t imagine she’s pleased but she enjoys playing the game.
Fast forward to today, and the Facebook app logged her out. Candy Crush became aware & asked for a re-login. Lo and behold, the 70-odd levels she completed were gone and she had to start from scratch.
Her total investment in time? 8 months. Her total unrecoverable investment in in-app purchases? Less than $3. Her frustration levels? Like she wanted to throw the iPad at the wall!
What can we learn from this? Apps provide countless hours of entertainment for very little revenue to the app creator. App updates that break the database, eventually annoy the user. Is the user likely to continue with other games or apps? Possibly. But after a while there is app fatigue.
So it’s not about discovery. Sure the lists help. But being social (ie in-person) aids discovery too.
Being consistent, is key. Who downloads an offline travel guide, that gets updated and needs a resync, when you happen to be offline? I know a few offenders.
Splitting up apps that should be one – Facebook/Messenger, Foursquare/Swarm, etc. Then not providing a consistent interface, removing features or worse crashing when you’ve got to switch to the next app.
App fatigue is caused by putting the company or investor first, and the user last.
And as more contribute to the subpar user experience, the more smartphones will be whittled down to providing their basic functions provided for by Android & iOS with a sparse few extras. Overall, that makes the barrier to success much higher than before.