Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Chomp: With App Searches, It’s All “Free” and “Games”

You know what’s cool? A billion apps downloaded in a single week.

That milestone was reached in the last week of 2011. And what’s really interesting is how people are finding their apps. According to new monthly data from Chomp, a search engine for mobile apps, most users aren’t looking for specific app titles, but rather features and functions — and the top feature is “free.”

In December, 82 percent of iOS users, and 86 percent of Android users, looked for apps using such common search terms as “free,” “games,” “free games,” “fun games,” “ringtones” and “shopping,” rather than searching by name.

The word “Christmas” appeared on Chomp’s list of top search terms for December, across multiple countries. The company says query volume for the word, already elevated that month, spiked an additional 300 percent immediately before the holiday, then decreased again on Dec. 25.

Chomp’s data was culled from a sample of one million search queries, across mobile platforms iOS 4.0 and higher, and Android 2.1 and higher. Chomp, which powers app searches on Verizon Android phones, just started measuring tablet-app downloads, so those apps currently account for a very small percentage of its data.

What is somewhat surprising about this report is that other data, put out last year by Latitude and MTV Networks, shows that personal recommendation is one of the biggest driving factors when it comes to app downloads, with an estimated 53 percent of mobile app users saying their friends’ suggestions are most important when it comes to finding and trying apps. If that’s the case — say, if someone asks, “What’s that iPhone app that makes photos look old and cool?” (as I was recently asked) — users wouldn’t necessarily tell their friends to search for “free photo app” but rather, look up “Instagram.”

Chomp’s technology, however, is meant to enable app search based on functionality; it also factors user recommendations and social recommendations into its algorithm. Ben Keighran, the company’s founder and CEO, says he believes Chomp’s app-recommendation engine offers more to users than just lists of top-selling apps. (For app creators, though, nabbing a top-ranking spot in app stores has been shown to boost downloads significantly, as evidenced by RunKeeper’s 637 percent increase in average daily downloads after it became a featured app in the Android store.)

Chomp’s own list of top apps for iOS devices in December included WhatsApp Messenger, JunoWallet GiftCards, Pandora, and Adobe Photoshop Express; the top Android downloads for December were Angry Birds Rio, eBay, Google+ and Google Sky Map. GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ was at the top of Chomp’s international download charts.

Another interesting nugget from the monthly report: While paid-app downloads on Android showed no change, paid-app downloads for iOS jumped to 30 percent of all app downloads, for the first time ever. The jump was concentrated at the 99-cent price point, which increased from 15.9 percent to 17.8 percent of all apps.


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus