June 10, 2023

Downloadable applications for smartphones are a familiar thing for most people, but it is something most cellphone owners think very little about when they choose which app to download.

Casey Reid, sophomore biology major, has around 30 apps downloaded on his iPhone 6 and most of them are rarely used.

“Most of them are just things I use in specific situations,” Reid said. “I have like five games that I play often.”

Reid said many of the apps on his phone he either downloaded after a friend recommended them or saw them on the App Store’s Top 25.

Few smartphone users put much consideration into why they pick and download particular apps.

Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious,” a book about how marketing grabs the attention of an audience, said word of mouth is a big factor in how people find apps.

He said there are thousands of apps out there, so people look to others they know to help them sort out which ones are worth the download.

Downloadable applications are unavoidable for any smartphone user and in some instances are an enticing gimmick designed by marketers to make money for the company.

“Apps use a variety of different strategies,” Berger said. “One is freemium, where a free version is offered to encourage download, but then players are up-sold to a paid version for additional access, features, etc.”

Allison Pfeiffer, senior psychology major, said word of mouth is usually what causes her to download an app, and she rarely pays for an app or for upgrades unless necessary.

She explained that apps are most helpful when she is able to do banking from her phone or browse sites such as Pinterest.

“I don’t really go looking for apps,” Pfeiffer said. “I think people end up wasting a lot of time just because it’s easy to get distracted.”

The use of downloadable apps has expanded far beyond banking and day-to-day conveniences. Apps such as Talk Life, an app that brings together a community of supporters to assist those struggling with depression or anxiety, are meant to be used alongside traditional talk therapy.

Pfeiffer said one way for creators to market their app is to know what demographic they are marketing to. That knowledge alone is helpful.

“If you’re looking at teenagers, then you’re looking at social media,” Pfeiffer said. “If you’re looking at adults, there’s apps for banking or fitness.”

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