How to be a Successful App Developer: Lessons from a Multi-Agent Simulation of an App Ecosystem and a Worldwide User Survey

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


T1.23, Turing, Wheatley Campus


Speaker: Soo Ling, University College London. 

App developers are constantly competing against each other to win more downloads for their apps. With hundreds of thousands of apps in these online stores, what strategy should a developer use to be successful? Should they innovate, make many similar apps, optimise their own apps or just copy the apps of others? Looking more deeply, how does a complex app ecosystem perform when developers choose to use different strategies? To address these questions, we have developed AppEco, the first Artificial Life model of mobile application ecosystems. In AppEco, developer agents build and upload apps to the app store; user agents browse the store and download the apps. A distinguishing feature of AppEco is the explicit modelling of apps as artefacts. We used AppEco to simulate Apple’s iOS app ecosystem and investigate common strategies used by app developers. We evaluated the success of each strategy in terms of number of downloads received, app diversity, and adoption rate by developers. To improve the accuracy of user modelling, we conducted one of the largest surveys of mobile app users to collect data on user adoption of the app store concept, their app needs, and their rationale for selecting or abandoning an app. The survey involved 10,208 participants from more than 15 countries, including UK, USA, China, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, Italy, Russia, India, Canada, Spain, Australia, Mexico, and South Korea. Analysis of the data revealed novel insights and country differences that can inform app development.