Apps by the billion

Last week, well over a billion apps were downloaded, according to results from Flurry. About 500 million downloaded in the US, 100 million in China and about 80 million in the UK. Just as everyone expected, Christmas was a big time for app downloads.

How many of these apps will still be in use next week? How many will be lost in the clutter of confusion that faces the nearly 4 million new Android users this holiday period? How many will need to be patched, or withdrawn, as users find problems?

Keeping an app visible, relevant and functioning correctly is a major challenge for any app developer, and is one that is less of a problem for Web-based solutions.

Or is it? We are seeing a growing pattern of automated updates in operating systems and applications, especially now that systems spend so much of their time online and with sufficient bandwidth to spare. Similarly, we are seeing an increased use of Web technology in “traditional” applications, even when offline (e.g. with the help of the HTML5 manifest). So maybe we are heading towards the middle ground where the update/relevance/functioning challenge will be equally shared by the native and Web apps camps. And if so, maybe it’s time to stop pointing fingers at each other and start working together.

After all, billions of app users and billions of Web surfers will expect things to “just work”. Otherwise they’re going to get pretty annoyed when their Christmas presents break.

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