Top 5 Trends Affecting App Publishing
This is a great time of the year to look at the top trends of 2014 and gain insights for 2015. Following are five trends -- some new, some continuing - that will impact app development and usage in the coming year. You might just reconsider what operating system, device to prioritize. Or could the BRIC countries represent new audience growth potential?
Trend #1: Tablet sales did not astound for Q4 Holiday sales.
Let's start with what tablets sold in 2014:
- iPads are down 4% over the year, 18% for the holiday tablet sales.
- Barnes & Noble's Nook device sales decreased 65% compared to 2013 holiday sales.
- Samsung's market share increased to be the #2 tablet after iPad.
Apple CEO's optimistic outlook notwithstanding, these trends are not good for Apple's iPad. Samsung and the "other" less expensive tablets appear to be winning out against the premium Apple iPad brand.
Trend # 2: On the other hand, smartphones, especially iPhones, have never sold better.
Smartphone Sales did astound for Q4 2014-especially for Apple, which sold 74.5 million phones in Q4, the highest sales ever. Counter the not so good tablet sales figures in Trend 1 with astounding sales of phones in this Trend especially the phablet-sized iPhone 6+ and Samsung's Galaxy and you see a different picture for mobile:
Recommendation: Design for iPhones first.
This is a rather radical recommendation. Most magazine publishers design first for the iPad, then for Android devices and third for the iPhone and lastly for the Android smartphones. Our recommendation here is to consider turning this on its ear. If bandwidth is tight, design first for smartphone-both iPhone and Android. Then, work your way into iPad. Unless trends change next year, it appears the phablet, or phone tablet, is winning some decisive battles against the high-end tablet. While Steve Jobs originally envisioned the iPhone and iPad as a "both" choice, but people are choosing either/or.
Trend #3: Google Play Ascending.
Let's now turn to downloads and revenue for Google Play vs. iOS. Google Play downloads are increasing at a much faster rate than iOS downloads. (see next two graphs below). This is a reason to make sure that you have Google Play as part of your download strategy. Not only are downloads on Google Play increasing at a faster rate than Apple, but the revenue line is ticking up faster than the Apple revenue line. This is not to say that Apple is not still dominant in revenue (according to App Annie, 70% of revenue in 2014 came from Apple mobile devices), but it is to say that sales from Google Play are gaining on them.
Download Rate, iOS vs. Google Play
Revenue, iOS vs. Google Play
Recommendation: Keep an Eye on Google Newsstand
If you are one of the many publishers who eschewed Google Play because 85% of all app sales were coming from Apple, take a second look at Google Play and work up a launch strategy that takes advantage of their strengths, like the RSS feed that will lead traffic to your site, and allow you to advertise not only your app for download and issues for sale, but also your other advertisers. With subscribers of 1M+ for several publishing entities (including Good magazine), it is well worth doing.
If you are already on Google Play, work with your account executive to maximize your sales.Get your RSS feed rolling. Use the power of all those free downloads.
Trend #4: There’s a goldmine of revenue in BRIC countries, and App Annie, for one, is really excited about it.
The exciting thing about the below graph is the increase in revenue for the group comprised of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). As you see, in no other grouping do you see such an increase in revenue, meaning this is the group to watch in 2015.
Recommendation: Expand to New Markets
As an international marketing major in business school, I know the sense of futility American companies can feel when given the directive, Think Global. But there are relatively easy ways to increase your penetration of these BRIC countries with a little patience. One such way is to you're your magazines on Magzster, a platform that claims millions of readers, many of them in the BRIC countries. Another is to translate your descriptions (and by translate I don't mean Google translate) into native languages for different markets. A little effort can go a long way here.
Trend #5: Women Rock.
No, Really. According to the Top App Trends report, women are the primary app downloaders! Even for games, where more men than women download them, women are inching towards perfect gender equality for downloads. Whereas with social media, chat, video and photo, women rule.
Recommendation: Keep women in mind, even in more traditionally male-oriented apps, like games.
If you are a product that traditionally skews male, note that you have a female market that is eager to buy and use, especially for casual short-time games (Candy Crush comes to mind). Don’t ignore 50% of the market. If you skew female, you’re in luck. Promote intelligently to pull yourself out of the noise.
2015 should be a rich year for app downloads and sales. We are nowhere near saturation for devices (tablets or phones) and customer acceptance of apps is only growing. With grandmothers using Instagram and all ages taking to the sharing economy, be open to marketing your own app on the smartphone, to the international and female customer for increased sales and downloads.
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.