Report: 47% of iPhone users found their latest app through app store search

Nearly half, or 47 percent, of all iOS users found their last app via an App Store search, according to a recent study published by MobileDevHQ. The firm also found that Google Play's search played an even bigger role for Android apps. The company's research was based on a survey of 875 U.S.-based smartphone users.

Among other stats from the report:

  • Only 10 percent of iPhone users downloaded their app from the Top Charts category, and only 9 percent used Apple's curated Featured section. 
  • Eleven percent of those surveyed said they read about the app they downloaded on the Web, and 2 percent searched for it on the Web. That means a significant percentage of users found the app they last downloaded through the Web in some fashion.
  • Around 53 percent of Android users found the latest app they downloaded through search on Google Play.
  • Recommendations from family and friends accounted for only 15 percent of downloads on iOS and 12 percent for Android. 

"We're pretty glad that Apple is improving app store search with iOS 8 because it's still the largest channel users are coming through," the report said. "While publishers and developers have historically been focused on category Top Chart rankings, it appears that focus is misplaced. This further highlights the importance of having an app store optimization strategy in place."

MobileDevHQ's study is a good reminder that app developers need to take many factors into account as they try to grow an audience for their app. Beyond app store search and the Web, there is also considerable potential around cross-promoting apps via mobile ads, which was reflected in the research but may still be too early to gauge effectively. 

And while friends and family may not play the important role in driving downloads as some developers may have thought, their feedback may be more critical in helping increase ongoing engagement with apps--a factor that is far more difficult to measure. 

Still, if nothing else, this data might make some developers less jealous of those whose apps and games always seem to wind up in the "Top" or "Featured" categories. 

For more:
- see the full PDF report here

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