The 100 billion milestone for downloaded mobile applications was passed over a year ago, but the rate of new apps per user is now slowing.
By Virginie De Kerautem October 15, 2014
A little over half (53.8%) of the French population are mobile device users, reveals the seventh quarterly survey of mobile marketing in France, recently carried out by market research and analytics companies comScore, GfK and Médiamétrie on behalf of the French Mobile Marketing Association. This massive user base provides a huge market opportunity for software applications publishers. However, while mobile device use is still growing, the public’s appetite for apps appears to be proportionally on the wane. In France, June 2014 data shows that the majority of mobile users download no more than two apps each and a mere 7% download eight or more apps. Of course there is a further gap between downloading and actually using an app. According to the web survey* by Médiamétrie, out of just under 50 apps regularly downloaded, less than a quarter are actually used.
A recent study by international consultants Deloitte puts forward three reasons for this general trend. Firstly, in spite of a growing smartphone user base worldwide, the newer users – characterised as ‘laggards’ – are much less keen on apps, in contrast with the early adopters who, having pounced enthusiastically on smartphones, revelled in the idea of having information and functionality delivered in a discrete software package. However, their interest now seems to have waned. Market maturity is certainly part of the reason for the slowdown – i.e. most mobile users already have the apps they need, reckons Deloitte. Moreover, app performance has improved to the point where there is less need to replace/update your apps regularly. Thirdly, given the higher Internet speeds available with 4G, you can now surf the Web much faster from your smartphone and mobile device users are increasingly going this route, instead of relying on an app. This however, does not hold true for everything.
Geolocation is a counter-example. The Médiamétrie survey shows that when it comes to working out an itinerary or looking at a town plan, a large majority of French users (82%) prefer to use a mobile app. Nevertheless, apart from that, mobile user demand for geolocation services and apps is no more than lukewarm. Only a little over half (51%) of those polled look at how to get to their destination or refer to a town plan using a geolocation service on their smartphones. As regards ‘check-in’ functionality, i.e. sending out a signal on the social networks that you are currently in a particular place – restaurant, bar, city, etc., French people very rarely use it. Only 10% of those surveyed had ever done so. This goes a long way to explaining why in August Foursquare removed the iconic ‘check-in’ feature from its app.
*among mobile users aged 15 and over, mainly smartphone owners