Are You Targeting the Right App Category in Google Play?

Few days ago, when I shared “10 Google Play App Stats You Should Know” in couple of app marketing groups, Per Haglund from the App Entrepreneurs and Marketers Group requested me to share how much apps are there in each category in Google Play. I believe he was trying to get an idea about the competition and lucrativeness in each category. If that’s the case, then merely knowing the number of apps in each category would portray half a picture. These numbers would only tell which categories the developers/publishers are interested in, telling almost nothing about user interests.

The question is, how we can measure user interest. We can use the following metrics.

  • Downloads
  • App usage data
  • In-app purchase data
  • Current installs
  • Number of user reviews

But we don’t have all these data points. We don’t have app usage data available in public domain. The only data we have about in-app purchase is whether they are available in an app and at what price points. Current install numbers are also privileged information. We have some information about download numbers, but those are not precise enough; plus downloads don’t portray the whole picture. The only metric we have left which can give us a clearer picture of user interest on each category is user review numbers. [However, because we don’t have a time-series dataset we can’t measure the fluctuations of user interests on different categories over time.]

Considering the data I have at my disposal, I’ve decided to use a mix of the following metrics.

  • Apps in each category
  • Review numbers
  • App price
  • In-app purchase availability

So, using the app dataset I scraped from Google Play which have 1,118,620 apps from 41 categories (data from 3 categories are missing!) I ran some analysis. The analysis is divided in two parts.

The first part is concerned more about category lucrativeness. In this part I measured the relative distribution of apps in each category, apps from top developers in each category, reviews in each category etc. All of the relativity in this part is measured against the total number of apps or reviews in the dataset. For example, when I calculated the percentage measure of how much apps in ‘Action’ category are from top developers I divided the number of apps from top developers with the total number apps in the dataset (that’s 1,118,620). So let’s take a look at the table.

Did you notice in the above table that ‘Education’ category has the highest portion of apps in Google Play? About 8.9%! But user reviews in this category is only 1.1% of all reviews. This category is probably over-heated with developer competition, but not interesting enough to app users. Take a look at the “tools’ category, which have the highest percentage of user reviews (9.3%) and holds 7.1% of all apps in Google Play.

Now, lets find out find which category attracts the highest number of top developers. It’s ‘Puzzle’. With 4.0% of apps and 4.4% of user reviews ‘Puzzle’ seems to be a nice balance. Immediately after ‘Puzzle’ there is ‘Arcade’. With only 3.1% of apps this category has 7.9% of user reviews and 85 top developers. This seems to be a lucrative category to explore. I think you have already got an idea about how to use the metrics. Now you can do your own analysis on this part. But you will also need to take a look at the second part before you reach any conclusion.

In the second part, I tried to analyze both lucrativeness and competition in each category. That’s why, in this part the relativity is measured against the aggregate sum of a metric in each category. For example, when calculating the number of reviews your app need to have to be above 95 percent of apps in a category, I used the review numbers exclusive to that category. So, let’s take take a look at the table first.

Let’s take a look at ‘Role Playing’ category. If you want to perform better than 95% percent of apps in this category, your app needs to have more than 33,306 reviews (highest in all categories).From the first table we know that this category sports only 0.2% of apps in Google Play. And, 44.7% of apps in this category offers in-app purchases. So, what do think?

Now lets take a look at the ‘Business’ category. Your ‘Business’ app will only need to score 82 reviews to be on the 95th percentile. But 34.8% apps in ‘Business’ category has no user reviews. And from the first table we can see that this category holds 5.8% of apps and sports 0.5% of reviews in Google Play. Seems to have a lot of competition with little user interest, right?

I think you can manage on your own now. If you find any other way to analyze the data please share it with us at manoj@alo.ventures.

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