Thursday, July 19, 2007

Growth Trends reveal true growth

I realize every time we rank apps on the basis of pure growth rate between two dates we open the door for lots of questions:

- What about NEW apps which didn't have users at the start of the period (we leave those out, but every so often we have one which makes us re-think that - this latest period it was Likeness by the successful FB developer Peter Louis, which entered the scene with over 800,000 users!). Peter co-authored SuperWall.

- How can you compare the growth rate of an app with 100,000 users with an app with only 1,000 users? (It's easier than trying to put them in groups... but we may start doing that).

- Isn't it more important to see the TREND of growth across multiple periods rather than just ranking based on 1 period? (YES! .. hence, this post..)

So we decided to tackle that last question just a bit here... We looked at the trend of growth across 3 periods: June 28 through July 6, July 6 through July 11, July 11 through July 17. Three growth rates tell us much more than only one.

Overall, most apps growth rates decline after the first burst. And, in fact, we've seen about 200 out of 1000 which just disappear after their first showing on our list... mainly due to not growing fast enough to stay in the top 800 or so most used apps. Consistently increasing growth rates are very rare indeed... only 24 apps in our list of just over a thousand achieved this, and that includes 3 which started with a negative growth rate, one of which is still negative (Lamefactor) - just less negative than when it started ;) [BTW, 167 apps were noted as "turn-arounds, which saw a decrease in growth rate from the first period to the second and subsequently increased in growth rate again in the third growth period...]

There are two notable exceptions, which you can see clearly in the chart above which shows all 24 of those with a positive trend:

PuzzleBee , by TheBroth: Started with 3,158 users on June 28th... then had a consistently increasing daily growth rate - 10.55%, 15.94%, 92.04% - to end on July 17th with 68,259 users. An average growth rate of 39.51% ! Take note... and give Nick O'Neil some credit for spotting the value in this app back on June 22, when he blogged about it.

Google Reader Shared Items, by Mario Romero, was growing at a respectable 1%+ per day and then Robert Scoble wrote about it as a Digg killer, others picked up the story and wham - the daily growth rate of this app jumped to over 41% ! Let's see if that trend continues since at the end of the period we're discussing (July 17th eod), it still had only 4,064 users.

There are a few others with a continuing positive trend, but most of them are still light on users in total - and the 24 in the chart only included those with over 1000 users as of July 17th.

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