Most Popular Apps (and the winner is…)

In General Articles

People love a winner. Whether it's the Oscars, an election or a top ten list, folks like to know who or what is the best in a given category.

At AppsAustin we're asked on occasion what the most popular apps are, which are similar to the more popular mobile applications out there. Please bear with us as we explain why our eyes kinda glaze over and we get a faraway look when we're asked that question.

When it comes to categories like tallest building, longest river or best-performing movie at the box office, the results can easily be quantified; after all, it's just a case of feet, miles and dollars. Rarely is there any argument, and the final measurements can be held up as proof. Problem solved.

With mobile apps, it's not so clear-cut. For example, take a look at the following recent “best of” listings we sampled from the web:

CNN shares the most popular iPhone apps of all time
MSN tallies the most popular apps of 2012
Onbile does the same as MSN—with different results
Venture Beat shares ComScore's app popularity findings for 2012—again, with different results
Digital Trends discusses the most popular Android apps

And it goes on and on. There are three major reasons the results vary so wildly from survey to survey:

First, the question as it stands is pretty vague, and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Are you interested in which apps are more popular for the iPhone/iOS system, or Android? Does your question about the Most Popular Mobile Utility Apps relate to utility apps, business apps, games, or all of the above?

Second—and this really factors in when different results seem to come out of the same research—who's writing the article? Frankly, if you're hired to write for a particular company—Apple, for example—it's in your best interest to cast them in the most positive light. Additionally, it's hard to be objective if you have a personal bias on a topic; if I really, really dislike Apple products (not saying I am, just an example), on a subconscious level I'm more likely to give Android more positive spin, even if outwardly I'm not taking sides.

Finally, time is a factor. An app that's going like gangbusters today may fall off the radar a few months from now. It's best to find research and samples that test over time, as opposed to those that take a single-time frame snapshot. Lasting popularity is the name of the game here.


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