I used to think that I knew exactly why people buy apps. In the case of iOS apps, there are several obvious places where an app could get highlighted :
1. The App Store – either as a featured product, or through one of the Top 10 lists.
2. App review websites – for example Touch Arcade.
3. Magazine reviews – yes, people still read paper magazines.
4. Friend recommendations.
The #4 point has always been mentioned as the most effective way to get people to download and use an app. After all, a friend would know what you like (or can make a good guess of it).
Sometimes, a good friend of the app developer can make an honest, persuasive case for the app. I have been using Instapaper Free for ages on my iPhone. I’ve always considered buying the full app, however the $5 investment seemed a bit too steep for something that just allows me to read more. (Disclosure: I already read a lot). I bought Instapaper yesterday. The reason? This argument by Merlin Mann. I love that the it’s not just a review of Instapaper listing the features and specifications. Instead, it’s about the act of reading and choices that you make.
So – for app developers, don’t overlook the value of a good friend who really believes in you, and what you are doing.