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What do UK Smartphone Owners Want from a Mobile App Store?

by Kevin Nolan | Dec 01, 2010

We are half way through our study benchmarking the user experience of mobile application stores. Our consumer research in London, UK has already thrown up some interesting findings. After reviewing offerings from Apple, Android, Windows, GetJar, BlackBerry and Nokia/Ovi, we asked participants to tell us what they think makes for the best store.

Neither the total number of applications, nor the total number of free applications was considered to be particularly important. As you can see from the list below, the critical factors for these users were all about application discoverability - i.e. how to find the apps they want and how to determine which of the apps available are most relevant and useful to them. The figure in brackets represents the number of times that each factor was mentioned.

  • Simple layout, easy to navigate, clean visual appearance (21)
  • Detailed descriptions of each app (incl. number of downloads, ratings, reviews, screenshots etc.) (11)
  • Powerful, accurate search (9)
  • Good categorization (clear, mutually exclusive categories) (8)
  • Easy payment process (e.g. ability to choose billing mechanism, enter card details once only) (7)
  • Easily identify familiar/official branded apps (5)
  • Nice design, professional style graphics, modern color scheme (5)
  • Previews and trials (e.g. “try before you buy”, beta testing new trial apps) (5)
  • Clear pricing (e.g. clear labelling of whether paid/free) (5)
  • Lots of apps - esp. free apps (5)
  • Recommendations, featured reviews (4)
  • Not too much advertising (2)
  • Behavioral profiling (1)
  • Most popular apps listed on homescreen (1)
  • Secure payment (1)

Among the other things we learned from these consumers were the following recommendations for app stores:

  • They prefer a light, elegant, but bright design. Ovi feels more modern in design than many of the other stores.
  • They want online backup of apps and the ability to re-download apps they have purchased if they change their phone.
  • Since they care about their privacy and data security, it is very useful to tell them the features and personal data that an app needs to access before they choose to download it.
  • They would like to be able to sort apps lists and search results in multiple ways (e.g. by popularity, alphabetically etc.)
  • Before they download an app, they like to see what similar offerings are available so that they can compare and choose the one that best meets their needs.

We will be repeating this research next week in the USA and the full results (including a performance comparison of the main stores) will be available to clients in January.

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