We’ve all seen apps which tout their usefulness, relevance, or popularity by their number of downloads, but does it really mean anything?
“Number of downloads” means exactly that — the number of people that have downloaded your app — it doesn’t even attempt to represent the number of people who found it useful or continue to use it. It doesn’t even represent the number or rating of user-submitted reviews.
So why do application developers keep using the number of downloads to infer things about the quality of their product? Here’s a few examples:
“According to Microsoft, more than 13 million copies of the Windows 8 Developer Preview had been downloaded since its release back in the fall. California-based Net Applications said that — based on the Developer Preview downloads — Windows 8 already accounts for three-hundredths of 1-percent of all PCs accessing the Internet.” — TomsHardware.
Microsoft states that Windows 8 is still considered a pre-beta product, and it’s use is discouraged on production machines.
“Since its launch in October, [RoadNinja] has been downloaded 82,987 times for iPhones and iPads.” — NBC33TV.
This article was published one month after RoadNinja’s launch; RoadNinja currently holds a 3/5 star rating in the App Store with only a total of 207 reviews.
I’m not saying these are poor quality apps — what I’m saying is that developers tout too loudly the number of downloads of their app and try to infer that its a good quality app. What the number of downloads means is that it is a popular app; not necessarily a good quality one.
I should add that I personally downloaded the Windows 8 preview to check it out in a virtual machine — something I haven’t even gotten around to doing yet. I also downloaded RoadNinja but found it impractical and uninstalled it shortly after.
Do you have any personal opinion on the quality of apps that market on the number of downloads they have? Do you have anything to share that you think I may not have covered in the article above? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thank you!