Tech sites love stats. Studies and surveys provide numbers to base stories upon and to a certain extent they legitimise opinions. But just because you read a story that says ‘X number of people prefer to use Y-style apps’ doesn't mean you should rush out and start developing Y-style apps.
Recent numbers indicate that the most successful apps are created by only a few companies and if you’re basing your app development strategies on numbers alone you are pretty much doomed from the start.
Facebook and Google sit at the pinnacle of app consumption. Social media, search, maps, games and streaming entertainment dominate the top spots in terms of app use. But that doesn't mean we should all be trying to write search engines or social media apps. Recent studies have also shown that writing games probably won’t make you rich either. Even the top game app developers are finding it harder and harder to turn a profit and the overwhelming majority of game app developers are only earning hundreds of dollars per app, not millions.
And even though the research folks toss around in-app advertising numbers that approach billions of dollars in the coming years you can bet that most of those advertising dollars are going to go to Facebook and Google. So cramming your apps with hooks to advertising probably won’t guarantee profits either (and they are likely to piss off your users more than it’s worth).
I wouldn’t pay much attention to installed OS numbers either. Just because Android trumps iOS by nearly five to one doesn’t mean you should ignore the iPhone and iPad space (or the Windows platforms either). You should develop for the platforms that make sense for your particular audience. And that’s the real key.
It may sound obvious but if you are an app developer you should think long and hard about who your audience is before you pick a platform (and don’t base your decisions on the fact that you’ve got one star programmer who happens to be an iOS wizard).
Think about your target audience, their age, their income, what will they be doing with your app, how will they use it, when will they use it, etc. and build your audience profile before you write a single line of code. As you build that profile you may find some decisions about how you go forward will become more obvious.
And keep in mind that not all apps are profit makers in and of themselves. In many cases apps are simply conveniences, easy shortcuts that provide potential customers access to a broader range of products or services. But keep in mind that just because you create an app that allows users to browse your virtual store shelves doesn’t mean they will want to. You may be in love with your products or services but unless someone is in the market for those things they won’t care. So if you want people to download and use your app over and over again you are going to have to give them something they want or need.
So focus upon what is right for your particular market and target audience and ignore the statistics.