New Reports Claim The iOS App Store Will Gain 435K New Apps In 2013, But Most Apps Go Unnoticed

A new year-end report from mobile analytics firm and ad network adeven reveals that the iOS App Store will be growing along the lines of its current steady rate, to add over 435,000 new apps to its massive catalog in 2013. That’s an increase from around 380,000 apps released in 2012, adeven says. That will likely exacerbate the discovery situation, which is made clear by a separate study by mobile marketing firm Surikate that says 81 percent of U.K. App Store visitors stop browsing after checking out the top 50 apps.

Adeven, too, found that most apps were likely to slip past consumer eyes, with 64 percent not securing a ranking spot for the month of December, turning them into what the firm calls “zombie apps.” A zombie app has very little chance of being discovered since it isn’t ranked, according to adeven, which affects not only its visibility in top charts, but also in search because of the way Apple weights those results.

But the situation may not be much better even if you do get ranked somewhere in Apple’s top lists, which technically list 200 apps in each category for both free, paid and grossing titles. Surikate says that most users (81 percent) just check out the top 50 and don’t go beyond that, and most in fact won’t go too far beyond the top 25. Surikate achieved its results by surveying around 1,600 iPhone owners on both iOS 5 and iOS 6 operating systems. Presence is however crucial to app success, the study found, since 75 percent of users downloaded titles from the top charts without having heard about them at all beforehand.

Adeven suggests that growth in terms of App Store size will continue to increase steadily as it has during the past few years, but it also points to a steady climb in the number of apps that fall into its “zombie” category, which accounted for 60 percent of apps in June, but climbed to 64 percent in its most recent tally. So what are some strategies to avoid this fate? Both adeven and Surikate’s studies shed some light on what apps are doing the best when it comes to catching and holding user attention, and when users are actively looking for more mobile app content.

In terms of addictiveness, adeven’s sentiment analysis showed that Word Seek HD was the all-time most addictive title based on its App Store review ratings and the words buyers use to describe the app, despite a low rating. By contrast, the best-reviewed app was Zulily, a daily deals offering for “moms, babies and kids.” Surikate found that App Store shoppers are browsing the market mostly between 6 and 9 PM; targeting campaigns to raise the visibility of an app on ad platforms and social media channels at those times could help boost download numbers.

Surikate says that according to its survey, App Store visitors make 52.2 million virtual trips per week to Apple’s software marketplace. The challenge, because of volume and apps and the sheer size of the audience, is then for devs to keep their titles above water, and the recent success of iOS discovery startups is reflecting that.