How do a few people find iPhone apps to buy?


With all the attention that the iPhone is getting because of OS3.0 and the new iPhone 3G S I thought it was a pretty good time to talk about the app buying experience. After viewing the pulsating live App Store Hyperwall at WWDC 2009 I was pretty mesmerized just like everyone else out there. It showed a real time view of what was being bought in relation to every other iPhone app. People were buying stuff all the time at an incredible rate. Watching that screen online I wondered how people were actually buying them. I’ve never bought an app directly from iTunes. It’s always been via word of mouth on a blog or tweet. To be honest I thought a lot of people were buying apps that way. I’ve always felt that iTunes could be a way better experience then it currently is. Browsing is painful—where to look? Search on the other hand isn’t so bad but it’s because I know exactly what I’m looking for. So yesterday I was going to do a simple post about how browsing isn’t that great and that most people buy iPhone apps from a third party. But before I released that post I thought I’d back up my theory via Twitter. I asked people how they bought their apps. I was pretty surprised with the response. Itunes search and browse was the majority and how I bought was in the minority.

While my survey was pretty unscientific it did give a quick impression. When I dug a bit deeper with the answers to iTunes, in part the reviews played a big part in whether someone bought an app or not. On the flip side of that people sometimes questioned the quality of the reviews and others complained that layout hindered the experience. So while people were using iTunes there’s a lot of room for design improvement. While the OS and Iphone keeps evolving perhaps a re look at iTunes is in order soon.

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  • ninakix

    Certainly it's certainly an interesting observation. I think, as designers, one of the hardest things to get away from is imagining that everyone else is like us. That's something I'm seeing turbocharged in my own thinking when trying to design this facebook application: I naturally put my own value set on it, even when my values aren't really applicable to the people who are using this app.