Into The Unknown Of Mobile App Search – The 4 Types Of Mobile App Search Users
Since Summer 2010, Xyologic has gathered information on how users search for apps, what queries they type, and how users behave.
Based on our studies – a previous Alpha version of our app search was integrated with various partners and saw millions of queries – and by looking at the publicly available studies by fellow app search company Chomp, we have identified four types of users in app search.
Our main findings conclude that there is a demand for a powerful search engine for apps that must be able to understand vaguely expressed intents and very general queries during the search process. Xyologic’s view is that to most users, the mobile Internet world is new and most users are inexperienced when it comes to app search and discovery.
The Mainstream User Wants To Be Shown The Best Games And App Alternatives Within App Categories
Most app searches happen with only a generally expressed intent of what the users are searching for. Most users, around 75%-80%, type in general app categories into the search box.
Examples of such categories are social networking, education or action games.
Our findings are consistent with what app search company Chomp was publishing in its Monthly App Search Analytics study.
Where they differ, though, is that users have a greater appetite for game categories as opposed to pure app categories.
This is consistent with the general app store download patterns.
Games are leading downloads on iOS and after still lagging in 2011 have become as important as apps on Android.
A Minority Of Users Look For Simple Inspiration
Another group of users, amounting to around 10%-15% of all queries, look for what we consider simple inspiration. These users either type “games” or “apps” into the search box or add adjectives like “new”, “free” or “fun” to their queries. Examples of such queries are: addictive games, fun games, free apps, new apps.
Needless to say that guessing what this type of user may be looking for is particularly hard. A user that types in “free app” or “new game” has no clear view of what they are looking for and needs inspiration.
A Small Minority Of Users Look For Specific Titles Or Brands
Only 5% of all users seek specific app brands or titles. From this and other data we believe that while some users have an awareness for mainstream brands like Zynga, Angry Birds or Facebook, awareness of any other brands – for example those of the emerging Indie Game Makers – is an exception.
A Small Minority Of Users Look For Specific Functions
Functional, or more specifically transactional, app searches are somewhat a holy grail of traditional Web search. However, we find that such transactional queries only account for 5% of app searches. Examples of such searches are “crop photos”, “block calls”, “view movies” or “texting.”
When we started to look into the app search patterns of users we quickly stumbled upon the notions presented above, both in Chomp’s data and our own.
Frankly, we did not like them.
It is very hard to build a search engine for a users that gives away very little intent.
We believe such a mobile app search user wants to have presented options at every step of the way as chances always are he has not found what is he is looking for, yet. Such an user needs to be shown his options.
This is what we set out to build with Xyo app search.