The dream of the stand-alone “app business” is dying

Your dream of coding and then launching an app that will then rake in billions of dollars is, well, probably not going to happen. Common sense and a general understanding of the mobile space would show you this, but comScore’s annual U.S. Mobile App Report also gets at it.

The new report, which looks at the behaviors of desktop and mobile users, featured a section that analyzed the most popular apps out there today. ComScore charted the top 10 most-used apps, and it really shouldn’t come as a shock who the winners are: Three of them are owned by Facebook, four of them are owned by Google, and the other two are Snapchat and Pandora.

There are a few important points to tease from this:

  • Every single app on this top 10 list is owned by a publicly traded company.
  • Facebook and Google–which are considered a growing duopoly when it comes to digital ad revenue–are unsurprisingly controlling the mobile app space, too.
  • The once-burgeoning app space–where a sole entrepreneur who had a cool idea for a mobile product could quickly deploy a successful handheld business and profit–has evolved to being controlled by tech juggernauts.

ComScore goes a little deeper and looks at the fastest-growing apps, too, and finds that they generally offer marketplaces or services and are thriving because of “network effects.” In short, the fast-growing new apps are the ones that have been gaining momentum for years already.

Of course, it’s overly simplistic to say with broad strokes that all new apps are doomed to fail, but it’s important to see how the market has changed over the years and who the dominant players have become.


As stand-alone mobile products begin to face challenges of churn or changing consumer tastes, it seems the ones that survive have either been scooped up by a big gun or have built a platform beyond the app itself.

You can find the full comScore report here.