Are we reaching a saturation point for apps? A recent survey by Deloitte suggests our interest in new apps is declining, revealing that a third of global smartphone users don’t install apps. App use is still high – but users seem to be sticking with what they know. On average, we own 30 apps and use only 10 on a regular basis.

This poses a big challenge for new contenders. Once users settle into a routine, it’s difficult for new competitors to break into that. App discovery remains an unsolved problem: Deloitte reports that the top methods for finding new apps are simply browsing through the million apps on the app store, and word-of-mouth recommendations among friends.

We’re increasingly see brands ‘unbundle’ their software, separating functions into discrete apps. Facebook for example has expanded upon their original ‘all-in-one’ app, creating separate news, messaging and photo-messaging apps. This core functionality was arguably always present within Facebook, but unbundling these apps makes the individual features more apparent, easier for large teams to develop, and they become more discoverable and likely to stand out against competition like Feedly, Whatsapp and Snapchat. Line, a popular Japanese messaging app, is developing an extensive portfolio; Foursquare spit into Swarm, and Google has recently split its Drive app into Docs, Sheets and Apps.

The ultimate aim of unbundling is to get users to associate specific apps with particular functions, which makes them much easier for users to discover, and compare. Whether users will appreciate the improved user experience, or find the need to download multiple apps for multiple functions a big bother, is still to be seen.

 This article originally appeared in Moving World Wednesday 


  • Philip Browning

    Fascinating. Personally, I can live happily with seven apps (great title, by the way – wish I’d thought of it).