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Improving app discovery by optimizing app store charts

How many current Top 25 apps have you already installed? Are the apps you already have interfering with your discovery of new titles?

According to Nielsen’s Mobile Media Report (form entry required), 63% of users discover apps by browsing the Apple iOS and Google Android app stores. The stores’ top charts provide the lion’s share of overall app discovery.

Once an app climbs to the first page of one of the top charts its download rate accelerates substantially; at Animoca the download rate for an app triples after it reaches the first page of Top Free lists. Being in the first page of the rankings lists is therefore paramount and apps are marketed aggressively to achieve this target.

Animoca believes there is a simple way in which the top charts can be improved to benefit everyone in the app economy: provide an option to hide from rankings lists those apps already installed by the user.

Example: a regular iPhone user views one of the various Free top charts. 25 results are shown, but our user already has 6 of the 25 apps shown. If those 6 apps were hidden, allowing apps lower down to be displayed, our user would see an additional 6 relevant apps on the same screen real estate of the same list; that’s 24% more.

Furthermore, improved exposure for these apps means that they – and also the apps ranked below them – now have a better chance to reach a position on the first page of the Top Chart and thus be discovered by more users.

This effect can be even more dramatic if we focus above the fold. Although the iPhone displays 25 results on the first page of a top chart, only ranks 1-5 are immediately visible, or above the fold. Some regular users may find that 2 or 3 out of 5 of the apps above the fold are products they have already installed. That’s a loss of 40 to 60% of the best screen real estate!

This is just an example to illustrate the point, and the actual number of apps shown and screen space lost to redundant apps will vary considerably by user, device and platform.

Both the Google and Apple store systems can tell which apps are installed on a specific user account/device, so it should be possible to personalize the rankings lists by hiding the redundant apps. The rankings lists would in effect show the top lists of apps that are not installed on this user’s device.

The option to hide installed apps from top charts can provide exposure for a greater number of apps. Platform providers and publishers will benefit from the download of more apps and associated revenue, while users will enjoy a better user experience.

In terms of implementation specifics, we suggest the addition of a simple toggle to the current iOS and Android interfaces for the rankings lists – perhaps a small button to “hide/show installed apps” on the top charts or possibly an option in the settings menu.

UPDATE: we have revisited this topic in a newer post – please see Optimizing app store charts – revisited for Android phones.

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