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Do App Download Numbers Really Matter?

January 10, 2014 13 View
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When you deploy your app and kickstart the marketing campaign, you start tracking a set of metrics to measure the success of your application. But everything depends on how you define success and on your vision of the app's goals. There is no app owner who doesn't want his creation to become an overnight sensation with a million downloads. But are these download numbers that much important, can you rely on them to state with confidence that your app is successful? Are there things that require more attention?


A closer look shows that download numbers cannot be the only metric to rely on. They don't show the real value of your app, especially if compared with other important metrics. In some way they can be rather delusive. Let's see why they can't show anything definite, if considered on their own.


Why App Downloads Are A Delusive Metric


After you launch the application, the first couple of weeks usually show the download boom. You promote it, support it, look through the first reviews on app stores and maybe tech blogs. But an app that is downloaded does not necessarily get launched; a launched application is not necessarily used at least once; what's more, an average app has a big chance of never being used more than once. That is why tons of downloads do not exactly mean that your app is great.


People tend to download plenty of apps, but soon may get tired of the gathering excess on their homescreen. It's hard to catch attention with something that is constantly rolling inside the abundance of same-structured pages on application stores. Even harder it is to retain users' attention.


Analytics tools do count downloads but don't count deletions. This makes the download metric even more vague while it constantly grows. App downloads don't tell you anything that will help make your app better. You needn't learn too much about them, you need to know more about user behavior and gather feedback.


There Are Things That Matter More Than Downloads


Even if the app gets downloaded, it can easily be thrown away over a period of time. If it isn't launched at once, users may forget about it and just delete later on. What matters here is the actual usage. How many time do people spend in your app? How well does it coincide with your own calculations? There is an expected average time a user spends on an app, depending on its purpose, and that's what needs to be measured and analyzed. Such things are more precious than bare numbers of downloads.


The app can be simply paid, which means direct revenues; or it can be free with another monetization model aboard, say, freemium. Whatever, if it doesn't offer great user experience, it won't be a success. Downloads tell nothing much here again. There is a difference in simply getting an app sold by any means and making its users happier by the very fact of its existence. Thinking long-term, the latter is vitally important. And if otherwise, if the numbers of downloads are not as huge as you expected, the app is not necessarily a failure.



Any good, lasting app needs to raise interest of potential users, engage them, retain them after the first usages, and convert them into paying users. If you want to make your app valuable and keep it valuable after the deployment, you shouldn't consider app download numbers as a serious statement of the app's success. Surely it's great if it gets downloaded over and over again, and the counter keeps tracking, but that's not the app's value on its own.

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