The chart above is taken from a recent post by Flurry entitled, "The Rise of the Mobile Addict".
Flurry have defined a “Mobile Addict” as someone who launches apps 6 times more per day than the average. (At present, that's running at 60 app launches a day).
From the chart above we can see that there are 176 million "addicts" globally. Also that this segment is growing faster than other segments.
(As a side note; I was amused but not surprised to see that my own segment, "Middle aged parents", overindexed on the addicts category by 40%).
Simply put, not only are there more smartphone users, these users are using apps more and more.
This means that web businesses face the following challenges;
1. Gaining exposure in the app stores to get downloads
There are millions of apps. Millions. Yet it's always the top 50 in any category that get the majority of the downloads. Getting to the top of the pile is no easy task.
2. Driving usage and engagement
Getting a first use for a product and then repeat usage is probably the most important thing to get right.
The best companies will be basing their product design on a deep understanding of customer behaviour. App product design will be based using learnings from neuroscience and behavioural psychology.
A great book that I can recommend on this topic is "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal.
3. Competing for user time and attention
With 60 app launches in a day, apps compete with each other for both screen space and our time and attention.
Think of it as a big conversion funnel.
App store presence > downloads > first use > repeat use > firmly established habit
Getting from one end of the funnel to the other is no easy task. With mobile usage on the increase, companies are going to need to find smart ways to be the go-to apps. That basically means solving problem 2; changing consumer behaviours to make sure the app becomes one of their habits.
Ultimately there will be a long tail of apps with very small usage and a select few that dominate.