Low iPhone App Usage Stats Don't Tell the Whole Story

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If the new Pinch Media report on iPhone applications usage is correct--essentially that we download and even pay for a lot of stuff we never really use--then I must be an anomaly (which isn't the worst thing I've been called). But I regularly use most of what I download. OK, not most, but let me explain. iPhone apps are an important part of my life.

Here are some "fun facts" taken from the report and quoted from another post here at PC World:

  • Fact #1: With free apps, a whopping 80 percent of people abandon their selections the day after their first interaction.
  • Fact #2: When it comes to paid apps, less than a third of users go back for more the following day.
  • Fact #3: Only 1 percent of people end up developing a long-term usage relationship with any given app. Instead, most tend to lose interest after only a few minutes.

And my response:

First, the large number of free downloads make it easy to try iPhone applications and just trash them if they don't meet a need. I guess Pinch finds this interesting, but it's hardly significant. Slightly more interesting is that people buy applications and then don’t use them.

Again, given the low price of most iPhone applications, it's easy to pay a buck or two, download the app and decide its not worth the trouble or provide any value. Heck, I've even occasionally poured out a Starbucks coffee that I didn't like--and cost me more than most iPhone apps I've purchased.

What the report tells me is we need an easy way to "return" an iPhone app you don't like for a refund, say within the first 24 hours after downloading. That would help protect users against something else: The report suggests you can make a great deal of money selling a really bad application if the description and feedback can be made to seem positive enough.

As of this moment, I have downloaded 58 iPhone apps--I figure I found shocking once I started counting them. It would be impossible to install and easily use all of them on my iPhone simultaneously, and several do pretty much the same thing, besides. I have, for example, downloaded several free news and weather applications.

Of these 58 apps, I paid for about one-third of them. The most expensive was a field guide to western birds called iBird, for which I paid $9.95. I also have a paid copy of Distant Suns, the astronomy program, that cost $4.99. And I have a single game, Yahtzee Adventures, that cost me $2.99.

There are two or three programs I am sorry I paid 99-cents-apiece for, none of which make bodily noises, just in case you were wondering.

There are another four or five apps that I've decided I will never use and should delete from iTunes and my phone.

There are, however, nine or 10 iPhone applications that are either essential to me or that I want to carry because when I do need them they come in extremely handy. The Pinch Media study says there aren't many iPhone users who find applications as useful as I do, which is a shame since they help make my iPhone an extremely valuable device. I love way more than one percent of what I download.

David Coursey is ridiculously hooked on his iPhone. E-mail him at david@coursey.com.

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