The metrics from the Apple App Store continue to be spectacular, and another reminder that other devices and mobile companies are going to need to move even faster in order to keep pace. The new data reveals that apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch have broken the 85,000 barrier, generating more than 2 billion downloads.
As for Apple's competitors, the sailing is only going to be more challenging. This is because those who own Apple devices are far more likely to download apps. A new Smartphone Intelligence study reinforces the action on Apple gadgets:
We recently saw the same results in PRTS2 - our technology survey conducted among more than 28,000 public radio listeners this past summer. Isolating out the smartphone owners, the red bar at the top of the chart tells the tale. While 45% of all smartphone consumers have downloaded both free and paid apps, the percentage balloons to 70% among iPhone and Touch owners.
But the question is whether those who download apps continue to use them. If you own a smartphone that features apps, you know this story only too well.
Someone tells you about an app, you download it, check it out for a day, and then forget about it. It may remain on the "desktop," but you may as well delete it because it's never used.
When stations talk about their apps - and how to use them - good things happen. When they don't, downloads slow to a trickle, and usage very likely ebbs, too.
You can see this on the chart below from a jacAPPS client that ran a little on-air experiment. During a one-month period, they consistently promoted their app, encouraging their listeners to download it. Just like looking at the ebb and flow of PPM ratings, you can clearly see the cause-and-effect of these promos.
But it runs deeper than that because hundreds, if not thousands, of new iPhones and Touch devices are being sold in your market each week by Apple, AT&T, Best Buy, and now Wal-Mart. That's analogous to new cumers moving into your city all the time, making it smart to continue to market your app on a regular basis.
And because this is a new technology, helping your listeners connect the dots is key to any app program's success. Don't just suggest they download the app - "teach" them that they can listen at work on their 3G network even when their employer uses firewalls to block your stream. Or that their mobile device is now like a Walkman. They can now take your station anywhere - to the gym, when doing household chores, and on vacation.
Radio has a tremendous advantage over so many other businesses and brands because of that powerful cume engine. Trust me when I tell you that we have now developed apps for many other non-media clients that don't have the built-in "loudspeaker" that reaches thousands, if not millions of consumers each week. They would kill for your ability to run "commercials" on your own air for your app, thus generating more downloads and usage.
Mobile technology is going to play a major role in radio's future, and broadcasters who seize the opportunity stand to be in a great position in the coming years. The naysayers who continue to quote fledgling mobile numbers or bubbling under streaming stats are missing the point. FM radio had low numbers at the beginning, too.
But success is going to require that your core brand is worthy of platform extension, not to mention the importance of apps that not only provide a stream, but also entertian and enhance the station in unique and memorable ways. That's one of the reasons why we have been so gratified with our progress at jacAPPS in less than one year. We believe our success has come from the fact that we're not code writers, but marketers who work with stations to craft strategies and solutions.