If you ask Peter Kafka, he’ll tell you that the “app boom”–our penchant for loading our phone with new games, social media and entertainment applications–is completely, unequivocally and absolutely dead. He said as much in his article for Recode, punctuating with
According to the article, downloads of apps that aren’t Uber or Snapchat are way, way down. This may seem to spell disaster for app developers across the country; it’s not hard to understand that, if no one is downloading the apps you make, your income might start trending towards zero.
So, with the end of the so-called “app boom,” might we begin witnessing the end of the developer-boom? I say “no.”
Kafka’s article implies that people are not looking for new apps anymore, seemingly content with what they’ve got, based on a reduction of app downloads. The reality of the situation, though, looks quite different. People aren’t done downloading apps, they’re just becoming a bit pickier with which apps they download. In essence, people have recognized that downloading the sixth different iteration of Game of War/Boom Beach/Clash of Clans/Mobile Strike may be doing more to clog up their phone than actually provide any entertainment value. People aren’t done downloading apps, they’re just getting smarter with the apps they do choose to download.
The same report referenced in the Recode points to a very different trend in apps like Hulu, AirBnB, Netflix, Pinterest, all of which have seen increases in downloads in the last year. Another point, this one brought up by Kafka in his article, points to a fairly conclusive reasoning behind the slowing downloads of app giants like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Gmail: most everyone already have these apps. Over 500 million people have downloaded Twitter on Android alone. Over a billion have downloaded YouTube, Facebook and Gmail. Simply put, the more people already have your app, the fewer people are going to be downloading it each month.
But that point aside, there is even more evidence that the app boom isn’t slowing down, at least not universally. The fintech industry, for example, is booming.
Personal finance and investing apps like Acorns and Mint have each logged download numbers in the millions. The fintech industry as a whole raised over $12 billion dollars in 2015 alone according to TIME Magazine. The emergence of these apps is causing some unrest in the banking sector. While fintech more than likely won’t spell the end of banks, the plethora of apps and services available from your smartphone has begin to eat away at banks’ profitability.
As new apps continue to see their way into the market, it’s become evident that the social, financial and entertainment apps that smartphone users are downloading are being vetted more thoroughly by their users for actual, viable real-world use. Applications which have financial and economical benefits that are evident to users shouldn’t suffer from the seeming drop in app store downloads that we’re seeing. As the growth in the fintech sector shows no signs of slowing down, the emergence of apps like VERB which exemplify the social, financial and entertainment values that seem to dominate the app store downloads, are primed for success.