First, as implied by the title of the article, games are decreasing in popularity on Android as a share of total downloads, while that same share is increasing on iOS. In December, games were 36.1% of iTunes downloads and 22% of Android downloads.
Next, I wanted to tackle some misconceptions about app pricing on the two platforms. As a proportion, paid apps are an almost negligible proportion of downloads on Android (where they hover around 3-4%). Consequently, average “app purchase price” (shown below) is quite low compared to iOS, where the proportion of paid app downloads is between 6 and 10 times as high.
The above plot is misleading because it hides two important facts:
$.99 apps are a VERY large proportion of iOS app downloads
a relatively larger proportion of app downloads on Android are at “premium” price points due to this relative lack of apps at price points less than $1
As a result, average app price, conditional on non-free apps, is actually higher on Android.
The point of this article isn’t to steer developers of apps (premium or otherwise) to or away from either platform, each of which has its strengths. You can read up on monetization of platforms here and here (one article is very pro-iOS, the other very pro-Android). Rather, I wanted to reinforce a basic lesson from Stat 101: averages can be very misleading.
This year I was invited to speak at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in San Francisco to talk about Apps and why we are so excited about them at Chomp. It was a tremendous honor to be one of the 50 speakers selected from the 86,000 alumni of the Wharton School. My presentation focused on three points:
Explosive Growth in App Downloads and Usage
Differences Between App Search and Web Search
Chomp’s Advanced and Innovative Algorithms for App Search
The differences between App and Web search number far greater than what they have in common. Rather than searching by keyword, users search primarily by function or category when looking for apps. Web pages have a sophisticated link structure, apps do not. Expected results for the same query, have drastically different expected results on web as compared to app search; consider a search on Google for social networking and a search on Chomp for social networking. As a result, very different algorithms are needed to tackle the problem of App Search.
Chomp’s Advanced and Innovative Algorithms for App Search
Unlike Google, Yahoo, and Bing, Chomp is the first search engine built from the ground up for apps. Our sophisticated machine learning and natural language processing algorithms understand your query beyond just the keyword, Chomp understands the topic in which you are interested. When you search for to do list, we understand that you are interested in managing your time and remembering to complete various tasks. Chomp returns a wide array of apps to help you achieve this goal, not just apps named “to do list”.
In my talk I step through the above three points in more detail and of course end with some app recommendations. Make sure you check out:
Findmytap – the best way to find your favorite beer on tap nearby
Foodspotting – a great app for finding foodie worthy eats wherever you are
Strava – for logging and tracking your bicycle rides.
Above all I work at Chomp because I love and am passionate about apps and the very positive impact they’ve had on us all. Can you imagine your life without a checkin on Foursquare? How many hours have you spent hurling angry birds? No matter how hard I try, I can’t even get lost anymore. The full presentation can be found here and happy app searching!
Update! The subject of my talk at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in San Francisco June 23-24, 2011, has changed. The new title and abstract can be found below.
Searching by Function: App Search v. Web Search
The age of apps has officially arrived. There are more than 500,000 apps for iOS and nearly 300,000 on Android. Last year alone 8 billion apps were downloaded, and nearly that many have been downloaded this year. Growth in this multi-billion dollar industry continues to accelerate. Navigating this massive landscape has become a real problem for smartphone users, because traditional keyword-based search algorithms fail to perform as efficiently. Consumers search by app function, requiring a very different approach to ranking. In this talk we dissect current issues with app search and discuss several solutions implemented at Chomp.
In no particular order here are the top 5 reasons why I’m thrilled to be working at Chomp
1. Chomp is smaller than Google by a factor of roughly 1000
On my first day I knew everyone’s name. I interact with the CTO and CEO on a daily basis. There are no remote offices. I know what everyone in the company is working on. The velocity of the team is incredible. The level of camaraderie is something I’ve never experienced before.
2. Everyone at Chomp is very competent AND works very hard
Good things happen at the intersection of willing and able. When a release needs to happen, part of the team stays late to make sure it happens. When an East coast press release goes out early, part of the team wakes up at 3AM to make sure everything goes smoothly. We will succeed or fail together, so we all put in our fair share to make sure the former and not the latter happens.
3. Billions of apps are downloaded each year and growth is exponential
I think this point is best summarized by the figure below:
More details can be found in the full slide deck from Matt Murphy and Mary Meeker here.
4. Chomp’s app search is superior to iTunes, Android Market, and other competitors
I used to commute 2+ hours by bus to Mountain View. Working in the city has allowed me to reclaim 10 hours of my life per week. It’s huge.
Finally, I’ve been asked what I have been and will be up to at Chomp. I will be working primarily on Search Quality and the monthly App Search Analytics report. Though I can’t say much about the former, here is a link to the latest edition of the latter (which was featured on the front page of Slide Share):