How To Choose The Right App Store Category

Artyom Dogtiev | February 8, 2016

App Marketing

Currently a Digital and Web Specialist at Barilla, George takes part of the internal and external innovation and digitalization process in the company. His role covers all countries Barilla brands and employees are found in. Previously, he coordinated demand generation campaigns & partnerships that help spread the word about AppsBuilder, while also lending his app marketing expertise to blog posts and case studies. Born in Lebanon, he is a mountain and outdoor enthusiast.


Economics 101 taught us to always valutate Demand vs Supply before jumping into an investment. What does the valuation of app stores tell us? Numbers are in! There is still room out there for your app. Google play has seen a higher number of monthly searches in 2015 than google maps with 89.7M vs 87.8M searches.

So how can publishers make it to the Top App Charts in this competitive marketplace? Focus on app categories. Google Play and the Apple Store (iTunes) allow you to select a category that best defines what your app contains or does. It renders search algorithms easier for marketplaces to deliver most relevant result to specific search queries. Other than search results, stores optimize categories to help users surf for apps.

Overall Usage of App Categories


Source: Flurry Mobile 2014-2015

Before jumping into a single store and operating system, it is worth taking some time to review how apps performed in 2015. The chart above is particularly explicative for our review because instead of just considering number of downloads, Flurry Analytics was able to calculate the number of sessions each app was used. Then, they classified them under their relevant categories.

Personalization: Yes, it may be a shock for you as well. Who would have expected Emoji apps to to be one of the top growing categories last year! With their usage rocketing to an increase by 332%, personalized apps were able to cover people’s demand in 2015.

Influencers: Emoji publishers were smart enough to sneak into already famous apps. For instance, the ‘keyboard plugin’ allows users to have their smilies directly in WhatsApp messenger or even Snapchat.

News and Magazine: ‘Knowledge is power.’ Kofi Annan. This one is no shock to anyone. People nowadays are simply interested in knowing about what is going on, not just in their neighborhood, but in the rest of the world as well. Mobile producers and operating systems’ owners nowadays are working hard to provide the smooth app that provides users with custom interesting news such as Flipboard, Google News and Apple’s News app that all come pre-downloaded to your brand new smartphone.

Influencers: Deducting major influencers to this app category is simple. The increase of commuters, the unfortunate political and humanitarian disasters, and most importantly the great UX publishers are giving to the news apps, all aided the 125% session growth.

Productivity: We all miss the days when we were able to tell our boss that you are not currently at your PC to view the document. With Google Drive and Docs being much more efficient online, users are able to access their photos, presentations and sheets directly on their smartphone. Collaboration apps such as Slack which were able to bring their web presence to native mobile apps, impacted greatly downloads.

Influencers: The boost to this mobile app category did not come solely from employed Google Play and Apple Store customers, but from millennials and university students who are using their tablets and mobile devices as their primary source of computing.

Lastly, Lifestyle and Shopping: Even Though drones are not yet delivering good to our doorstep, the customer journey taking a radical twist to include mobile and a fundamental part of their purchase. Therefore, brands are being ‘forced’ to develop m-commerce apps. Shopping and Lifestyle apps therefore witnessed a growth of 174%.

Influencers: As stated above, companies and brands are being highly recommended to develop commerce apps. Why don’t you see them worried? Well, some brands are enjoying the shift thanks to the use of commerce platforms such as Shopify. Keep in mind that mobile apps are must to achieve the Omni-Channel dream.

Shopify Homepage


Google Play Categories
With that in mind, I am sure you are eager to find out which categories Samsung and other, running Android OS, smartphone users are interested in. Below is a chart provided by AppBrain that shows aggregated data from February 2016. Analyzing the graph may be tough at first, however, other than the excepting of education apps, we notice similar data as presented above.

Top 10 Google Play Categories


Source: AppBrain

Apple Store Categories

How about iPhone users you ask? In order to dissect the world of apps under iTunes we can use the graph below to view the average monthly launches for mobile apps worldwide as of June 2015. At first glance we see that Travel and Lifestyle are gaining a big chunk of the revenues in both app stores followed by Media and Entertainment.

Average monthly launches for mobile apps worldwide as of June 2015, by vertical


Source: Statista

What category to invest?

With the absence of one truly dominant app store category, it is difficult to decide to invest in a vertical category. Instead, the top tip of the day is to invest in apps that can easily be integrated with external apps or even the real world. For example, why not make use of iOS 3D touch? To be a winner in the mobile world one should always think of new categories and not only compete in already-existing ones.

If you want to know more about what George Nader does follow him on Twitter as @nadergeo.

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