iPhone App Abandonment & Apps As 'Little Magazines'

Pinch Media made a presentation a week or so ago, pointing out that while there are millions of iPhone apps downloads few apps have any sort of longevity, which diminishes the advertising revenue opportunity. The Pinch presentation has interesting data about engagement and longevity by category. It says that games have the longest life and paid apps in general are used more and for longer periods. 

As represented by Pinch, here are the declining usage curves of free and paid iPhone apps:

Free iPhone Apps -- usage over timePaid iPhone Apps -- usage over time

There are also some interesting strategy recommendations Pinch makes: i.e., do a paid app first and then if it's successful consider releasing an ad-supported app.

Stepping back, what's interesting here is that these apps stores (in particular iTunes) have created something new and different from the Internet. As an aside, I've spoken several times about interesting opportunities associated with "ads as apps."

In a conversation this with Pinger Media, I had another thought: apps as "magazines." Traditional print magazines typically attract advertisers with a demographic focus. These apps stores also have that opportunity. Pinger wants to build lots of apps and it may find different audiences for many of those. 

Some apps will have broad, "horizontal" appeal. But some could be explicitly built with specific audiences in mind: moms, males under 30, college students, retirees, etc. And, depending on the app, the same underlying data or functionality could be packaged in different ways with slightly different emphases to accomplish this. 

Building out full-featured websites online might take months (or longer) and require large investments of money. Not so for iPhone or Android apps. This fact makes it possible to build lots of apps quickly to see what catches on. The analogy that comes to mind is the record industry of the 1950s and 1960s, which rapidly turned out singles, some of which became "hits." 

There's something quite interesting and very different than the Internet in the notion of being able to quickly and inexpensively build various apps that offer different slices of content or features or that try and capture different audiences. And the fact that many people are willing to pay something for them only adds interesting layers of possibility.