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Only a small subset of all apps generates the majority of downloads in application marketplaces

Having a large number of applications in the marketplace is often considered  a critical success factor for mobile ecosystems such as iOS and Android as well as for software ecosystems in general.

Our study titled ‘The influence of developer multi-homing on competition between software ecosystems’ challenges this notion. By analyzing 1.3 million applications in the three leading mobile application ecosystem, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone Store we show that a small subset of all applications generates the vast majority of downloads and that 3 per cent of all application developers account for 80 per cent of all downloads. We further show that from this subset that we call ‘keystone developers’ actively multi-home, i.e. publish their applications in more than one ecosystem.

The results thus imply that attracting and maintaining developers of superstar applications is more critical for the survival of a mobile application ecosystem than the overall number of developers and applications. We further predict that no mobile application ecosystem is going to obtain a monopoly in the market. From a theoretical standpoint, our study advances the understanding of the influence of multi-homing on competition between software ecosystems.

The full paper can be found from here and is available open access.

Bibliograhic information

Hyrynsalmi, Sami, Suominen, Arho & Mäntymäki, Matti (2016), “The Influence of Developer Multi-Homing on Competition between Software Ecosystems,” Journal of Systems and Software Vol. 111, January, pp. 119-127.