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Apps are for Creating iPhone Evangelists

April 22nd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Apps as Powerful Word of Mouth Enabler for iPhone User-Evangelists

I witnessed a very common scene in a restaurant the other day: a woman had her iPhone out and was showing off some App to her friend.  It stuck me that this was both a powerful customer acquisition mechanism for Apple, and the creator of powerful incentives for Apple with respect to Apps and App developers.

From Apple’s perspective, the most important role of an App is to induce an existing iPhone user to become an evangelist for the product by showing off the latest greatest coolest funnest App to their friends.  Think of Apps as a customer acquisition enablement tool for Apple.  Given that motive, it is in their interest to have a constant supply of fresh, innovative, interesting eye-candy Apps.  It is NOT in their interest to have a single App stay in the top 25 for weeks on end. It is also NOT in their interest to have some App make its way into the top lists through some other means other than user popularity.  It’s not just that Apple doesn’t care that it is difficult to promote/buy your way in to the top lists, they actively don’t want you to be able to do that.

We need to recognize that the system has been designed by Apple to produce a constant flow of fresh Apps at the top of the list, and build App business models accordingly.

This is consistent with the Apps are to iPhones as Songs are to iPods approach that Apple is taking.


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  • http://youmail.com AlexQuilici

    Nice post – and it shows clearly why Apple doesn’t actually seem to care that much or release numbers about what it makes from the app store, only the number of apps and the number of downloads.

    However, while Apple may not want folks to “buy their way into the lists”, that’s clearly what’s going on – and it’ll take them getting real control over the ads in applications before that stops, no?

  • Eric Ver Ploeg

    For sure people are buying their way onto the lists–and certainly, the good folks at AdMob and other ad networks make sure that everyone knows about that option. I have yet to see (admittedly, I haven’t looked hard–is there a case you can point to?) a compelling economic case for a paid App, where ad-driven download traffic (with the ensuing tail while the App lingers in the top downloads list), delivered a positive ROI.