A highly opinionated yet strangely useful survey of the Apple App Store
Dr. Carla Fisher is a game designer and digital strategist with fingerprints on more than 300 games for kids and families. She continues her musings outside this blog via a free weekly newsletter (sign up here) that curates articles, videos, and games that catch her eye. She can be reached at KidsGotGame@NoCrusts.com or @NoCrusts.
Be warned, I geeked out this week. I dove deep into the Apple App store and lived to tell the tale.
First, here’s the general state of apps in the Apple App store, including for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- 943,000+ active apps across all categories
- More than 175,000 games
- More than 102,000 education apps, which is 2,000 more than last week.
○ These are not exclusive categories. In other words, an app can be cross-listed in games and education.
- 932 apps are submitted to Apple for review every day.
This is all according to 148apps.biz, which maintains some handy app metrics. Quite useful for a quick snapshot of how busy the Apple ecosystem is. The above were last updated on November 4, 2013.
Since the release of my game Stride & Prejudice, I decided to take a look at what else released this week. It’ll give you a sense, too, of one way in which I do competitive analysis.
My Quasi-Scientific Method
I subscribe to an rss feed of all apps releasing in the Apple App Store that I review in Feedly. (An rss feed allows for syndication of web content. Sites like Feedly display the information. Feedly allows me to review lots of rss feeds at once.)
Then I counted the apps released over seven days (10/31 through 11/6).
Then I read the list and will now tell you my thoughts.
I’m listing titles and links so you can see more information. I have not purchased or played most of these. I’m purely making trend observations based on the information freely available. Approximately 100 games were in other languages, so I’m not really commenting on those either.
Altogether, I looked at 960 apps, released between 10/31 and 11/6. (This is different than submitted apps, which 148apps.biz tracks at 900+ submisisons a day.) It’s also a mix of updates and new apps, so it doesn’t mean that the total app count jumped by nearly 1,000.
I need a sense of humor to do this.
I’ve been casually following the rss feed for months. It’s useful for getting a sense of the market and occasionally finding new gems. You see how bad many of the titles are and you see how many people are releasing noise into the system.
To that point, it’s pretty jarring to see how many apps are targeted for toddlers and are focused on ABCs. Just a few of the many released this week include Alphabet Car, ALPHA BETA KIDS, A To Z Monsters :Alphabet Learning For Kindergarten HD (Typo is theirs.), ABC da Gabi, abc! Numbers with Mom’s Voice – Beach Edition. It gives you a much better sense of how competitive this space is. Even when the products are subpar, they are crowding the path to success.
Oops, check what that name might imply…
- BrisWeather (It’s not about the weather forecast for Jewish ceremonies but rather the weather in Brisbane, Australia.)
- bong (Appears to be a fitness band in China.)
Puerto Rico, here I come?
- 2014 Ben & Jerry’s Global Franchise Meeting (Because every conference needs an app. Sadly, you need login information to access anything.)
Because, why not?!
In theory these sound great. But in reality, probably not.
- AppyTogether (Displays mice and other things on the screen so you can get a good picture of your cat.)
- Cat Heads – Crazy Cat Lady Magical Snap Shot Adventure (Put cat heads into your pictures…)
- Miley Virus – Wrecking Ball Fun Celebrity Song Parody Game (Self-explanatory.)
- Dual Music Player (Play two songs at once, so you can share a single device and listen to your own preferred music. Not to multitask your music listening, I think. One song plays in the right headphone and another song plays in the left headphone.)
- Amazing Toilet Builder Lite – Addictive Toilet Stacking Game (I almost downloaded this, but I know the promise of an addictive toilet stacking game is so much better…)
Copycats, clones, and coattail riders are everywhere
It’s particularly noticeable in the titles of apps. I know many of us have joked about titling an app Monkey Toca Moose (a mash-up of three of the most successful app properties, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Toca Boca, and Duck Duck Moose), but it’s an entirely different experience to see people actively engaging this kind of name-dropping strategy.
Most terms are related to Candy Crush Saga, Minecraft, Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and other popular games. Often more than one appears in the title.
- A Candy Rush Adventure Pro: Race to Ice Cream Kingdom
- Candy Bubble Pop
- Accelerated Dream Candy Chase
- A+ MineSweeper Classic Free – Ultimate Q Doodle Game App
- A Toy Minion Jump Story – My Incredible Magic Monster Adventure
- Blocky Roads (This one is tagging on Minecraft, particularly in the imagery.)
- Angry Colors, Feed Angry Babies HD, AngryKids, Angry Jumps…
Please stop putting all your search terms in the title.
I highly recommend reading these out loud.
- CANDY MONSTERS – by 5-Star-Apps.com SHOOT THE CANDY MONSTERS The BALLOON FLYING GAME for iPad! Shooter Action Game for kids! Ad FREE on iTunes App Store!
- Acoustic Guitar Tuner – Free Guitar Tuner – LP Tuner Full – Detects the optimal tuning using built-in microphone with precision and ease!
- Amateur Scarecrow Total Jet Pack Chaos and Giant Farm Conquest Battles of Death – FREE Halloween Zombie Game
- A Pet Puppy Dress Up And Salon Game For Girls And Kids – Fun Beauty Fashion Spa And Hair Makeover With Cute Stickers FREE
- A Bubble Witch Halloween PRO – escape if you can from the vampire and jump into the spider web to get high-speed chase race – Delux version
- A Killer Doodle Stickman Fighting & Shooting Wars Game By Stick Man Fighter Gun War Games For Teen Boys & Kids Free
What gets my attention when I judge based on icon design?
When you’re scrolling through thousands of apps, it’s interesting to note what icons catch your attention. These caught mine. But on further inspection of the app description and marketing materials, I only downloaded one.
- Ali Baba und die 40 Räuber : Eine nette animierte Geschichte, ein klassisches Märchen, Spiel und Geschichte für Kinder zwischen 2 und 8 Jahren
- Babble Messenger (This isn’t for kids, but the icon screams kids. It’s just a clear, simple, and striking image. Too bad it doesn’t help me find out about the product.)
- Clockwork Puzzle Full (This is a very clean icon design that communicates the concept. The marketing images are not as strong.)
- Change the Color 2
- Art World France
- Animal Office – hedgehog adventure (I have no idea what this is, but the marketing graphics are also randomly hilarious. I downloaded it. Played it for 60 seconds and deleted it. So it goes…)
Trends I never saw coming and wish would go away already
If you haven’t seen this particular trend, check out the top free lists, which have a lot of dental games, which has now spread to eye, nose, and other body part doctor games. It’s enough now, really. K thx bai.
- Boys Dentist Office
- A Superhero Dentist – Bad Evil Teeth With Braces Edition
- Barbie Dentist & Barbie Dress up (Not affiliated with the real Barbie.)
Trends I never saw coming but am totally happy to have in my life
One of the reasons I’m running the rss feed is to beta test a new discovery service for parents. Because of that, I’ve now fallen in love with big vehicle simulators (especially Bus Derby). All of these launched this week, so it may be too late to cash in on this craze.
- A Garbage Truck Parking Realistic Driving Simulator Free
- Army Trucker Parking Simulator
- 3D Trucker Parking Simulator Game
- Forklift Master+ 3D Realistic Simulator
- Absolute Trucker Parking Simulator – Full Driving Test Edition
- Ambulance Parking – Emergency Hospital Driving Free
Yes, my friends. At least six big-vehicle simulations launched in one week.
It’s kind of exhausting and depressing to go through the list like this.
There is so, so, so much noise in the system. This 960 released during a single week are a tiny fraction of the apps that are flowing into the Apple App Store, never mind into Amazon, Google Play, and other marketplaces. Even though there’s a lot of junk, there’s also a lot of good stuff.
Building a successful business in this climate takes not just good design, but also great marketing, a realistic business model, patience, and luck. I know I’ve been beating this drum for awhile throughout this blog, but it’s important that everyone understand the market before wading in. Analyzing the rss feed is one of the strategies toward a better product and wiser strategy.
You can always reach us at kidsGotGame@noCrusts.com, or you can check out my beta service for parents, where I curate great apps, articles, and other materials for parents by subscribing for the free emails.
Our spring edition of iKids Digital is now available! We’re taking a look at the looming rise of VR in kids entertainment, how MCNs are boosting the marketing might of kidsnets, and the rise of artificial intelligence in kids tech toys.