The Revealing Insights of App Downloads and What it Teaches Us about Hardware

What apps are downloaded (or conversely not downloaded) tell us much about a given individual’s tastes and preferences. These metrics in aggregate tell us even more about the desired use-case scenarios of hardware.

Last week Apple released their iTunes Rewind 2010 where they highlight the top performing apps for 2010. They did this in 2009, but with the release of the iPad earlier this year there is a new richness to the data that provides several insights into what the masses are trying to accomplish with a suite of devices largely differing only in form-factor…..

For the most part, games dominated the top 10 list for both free and premium iPhone apps. Facebook, Skype, the Weather Channel, and Bing were the only non-games to make either list.

Top 10 paid apps (iPhone/iPod touch)
1. Angry Birds
2. Doodle Jump
3. Skee-Ball
4. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz
5. Fruit Ninja
6. Cut the Rope
8. The Moron Test
9. Plants vs. Zombies
10. Pocket God

Top 10 free apps (iPhone/iPod touch)
1. Facebook
2. Angry Birds Lite
3. Words With Friends Free
4. Skype
5. Tap Tap Revenge 3
6. The Weather Channel
7. Paper Toss
8. Bing
10. Talking Tom Cat

Top 10 grossing apps (iPhone/iPod touch)
1. At Bat 2010
2. Angry Birds
3. Call of Duty: Zombies
4. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz
5. FriendCaller 3 Pro
6. Zombie Farm
7. TomTom U.S.A.
9. Plants vs. Zombies
10. Doodle Jump

When it comes to non-telephony utility on the device that was originally first and foremost a phone, individuals look to be amused and entertained. We see emerge a desire for bite-size content to fill bite-size time. The apps downloaded most frequently by iPhone users are ones allowing users to exhaust time when they weren’t expecting to have that time. To be entertained when the time period is likely constrained or end abruptly.

The apps on the top of the iPad top 10 lists paint a slightly different story. The top 10 lists are populated with production-fcused apps and entertainment apps providing longer-form entertainment.

Top 10 paid apps (iPad)
1. Pages
2. GoodReader for iPad
3. Numbers
4. Angry Birds HD
5. Keynote
6. Glee Karaoke
7. WolframAlpha
8. Pinball HD
9. Friendly for Facebook
10. Star Walk for iPad

Top 10 free apps (iPad)
1. iBooks
2. Pandora Radio
3. Netflix
4. Google Mobile App
5. Solitaire
6. Movies by Flixster
7. IMDb Movies & TV
8. Kindle
9. Google Earth
10. Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD

Top 10 grossing apps (iPad)
1. Pages
2. Numbers
3. Keynote
4. LogMeIn Ignition
5. SCRABBLE for iPad
6. Documents To Go Premium
7. Angry Birds HD
8. Real Racing HD
9. Plants vs. Zombies HD
10. Proloquo2Go

There are games on these lists as well (Solitaire, Pinball, and one cannot escape Angry Birds). As a new form-factor, there are also a few apps are on the iPad top ten lists – like Virtuoso Piano for example – allowing users to really explore the potential of a 10 inch screen.

Not unlike the iPhone lists, many of the most frequently downloaded apps for the iPad provide entertainment. But there is an important differentiation. The most frequently downloaded iPad entertainment apps are more long-form entertainment (Pandora, Netflix, and Glee Karaoke).

Most noteworthy, the top 10 lists are dominated by apps aimed at helping users get something done (iBooks, Kindle, Pages, GoodReader, Numbers, Keynote) or inform (WolframAlpha, Star Walk for iPad). It seems clear there is a desire for production.

IMDb Movies & TV in the top 10 suggests there is probably a fair amount of simultaneous media consumption involving the iPad and other devices like the TV. Apps like this one and others on the top 10 lists highlight how the iPad is a go-to reference device for users.