The other day when I was listening to Marketplace on American Public Radio I heard a story about apps. Nielsen, the marketing company measured the number of apps people use. On average we use 26.8 apps regularly in a month and no age group used more than 30 apps in a month.
This is a big problem. If you are an app developer you are competing for eyeballs and attention. And competing with large companies that can spend hundred of millions getting people’s attention. How do you solve this? What is the solution to this 30 app problem? The solution is the long tail.
The long tail is an idea that was popularized by Chris Anderson from the book with the same name. It describes the idea the there are small niches in business that people can be in. Not everyone can make the next Blockbuster app, but you can make an app for a small group of people. If those people use the app then you will be successful.
On AngelList, a social media site for entrepreneurs (See an app for a group of people) there are many startups making apps. Looking at the short descriptions of the apps, you can see the long tail in effect. There are many Ubers for different countries. Facebooks for every career. There are multiple social media sites for emojis.
A funny example of this is the Jackbot 9000, a site that could give you the idea for the next billion dollar app.
Twitter for Defense Lawyers? That’s the long tail.
The 30 apps puts a cap on the apps we use. We have limited attention. But we can focus on a small group of people to make a successful app. The app doesn’t have to be for everyone, just Defense Lawyers.