Flurry reveals some unique insights into the smartphone industry as of right now. Because their firm focuses not just on iPhone, but also on Android, RIM Blackberry, and JavaME, they have the ability to see platform-spanning trends, instead of just those tied to Apple. So what can we learn from their deep dive into their company's data? Anything surprising? Actually, what the report confirms is what we've been hearing for some time now: the iPhone is king, smartphones are the new laptops, and iPhone applications can and do make money.A new industry report from mobile analytics firm
iPhone Has a Commanding Lead
Perhaps what's most surprising about Flurry's report isn't simply how prevalent and popular the iPhone and iPhone applications are today, but how far ahead they are of the nearest competitors. From an application perspective, the iPhone is killing on all fronts: number of developers, number of applications, and number of consumers using these applications.
Keep in mind when viewing these numbers, we're looking at data from Flurry, a snapshot sample computed from 100 applications, 8 million consumers, and 4 platforms (Apple iPhone, Google Android, RIM Blackberry, and JavaME). While these charts can give you insight into the mobile trends, they can't necessarily be extrapolated to the entire mobile smartphone industry. For example, because Flurry only deals with a small number of Blackberry developers, they can't provide any statistically relevant numbers relating to Blackberry apps. But then again, notes Flurry VP of Marketing Peter Farago, "why haven't Blackberry developers signed up for analytics?"
What you can glean from the info they've gathered, however, is that iPhone has a commanding lead over Android and the others right now. Unless Google has some big tricks up their sleeve, catching up with Apple's iPhone is going to be tough.
Smartphones are the New Laptops
Smartphones are the new laptops - we sort of knew this one already, didn't we? Although historically, only 10% of the installed-base used mobile applications on a daily basis, today, that number is changing... and changing fast. Smartphone applications are now heavily used and many are even used daily. Among those used daily, the frequency of use is also high, with some applications being used as much as 20 times per day.
Are smartphones really replacing laptops and are applications really replacing web sites? Maybe "replace" isn't exactly the right word to use, but there is definitely a shift in user behavior occurring right now where people are using their smartphones more than ever.
Yes, iPhone Apps Make Money
According to Flurry, iPhone applications can and do make money. Not all apps make it, of course, but those that do can actually make good money. A strong publisher with two titles a month can expect $10 million to $15 million in sales through the iPhone channel, if the titles are well-marketed, says the report.
But "well-marketed" is the key word here. The iPhone app industry is beginning to resemble the music industry with its "hit-driven" nature. One "hit" gets a developer on the map and gives them the chance to sell more apps. Successful apps often resemble successful songs: you need a good artist, a good producer, a strong distributor, and plenty of promotion.
Boosting Sales in a "Hit-Driven" Economy
It's also worth noting that you can't live forever off one "hit" alone. With iPhone games especially, users tend to get bored rather quickly. Flurry estimates that the average lifetime for a game is about 3 months. Publishers should keep that in mind when planning for their refresh cycles and updates.
But even still, refreshes provided by updates may not be enough. Flurry is seeing a trend that, to be honest, was surprising: only 10% of users are updating their applications after download. That means new features pushed out via an update aren't being seen by a large group of the app's users.
Instead of trying to drive engagement of your current user base through updates, it seems you may be better off going after new users. Cross-promotion of applications - that is, advertising one app within your other app - is very effective. Giving away a free trial can boost sales of your paid application, too.
Flurry is a mobile analytics firm with a "freemium" offering. Right now their core product is free, but in the future some additional optional services including development support and monetization opportunities will be added. Their company offers some unique measurements for developers of multiple smartphone platforms. One such measurement is user path tracking which is a feature much beloved by user experience designers as it lets them see the path a user took to get through a game or application.
Another feature of Flurry's platform is the ability to track dynamic parameters, which are completely custom parameters designated by the developer. Flurry also sets themselves apart from some of their competitors by what they don't do. They don't do advertising and don't want to be an advertising network.