With ever increasing use of mobile internet, mobile applications (or apps as we like to call them) have become an integral part of smartphone users. It has been estimated that the total market of apps is valued at $27.5 billion. It has a greater future potential than the traditional desktop software. With this growing rate of the use of mobile apps it has become imperative to ask the question “what factors influence sales of mobile apps”. Do people like to try apps before they buy them? This blog post focuses on the study conducted by Guie-Hua Huang and Nikolaos Korfiatis which talks about the role played by online reviews of that particular app which can influence the try or buy decision.
The Trial Version
Most of the mobile apps are available for free. However, for the paid ones the developers follow two models. Either the consumer can pay for the app upfront or download a trial version and then pay later. The trial version may either have limited functionality or be available for a limited time. During the trial, users interact with the app in different ways. They evaluate the product and decide if they want to purchase it or not. One such interaction takes place with other users in the form of online reviews.The kind of reviews posted by other users can influence the decision to buy or not buy the app.
Role of Online Reviews
User’s attitude towards the app is governed either by emotional process or a cognitive process. It is also decided by the type of apps. Apps can be of two types, entertaining or functional. Because entertaining and functional apps are consumed for different purposes, online reviews have varied influences on the users.
The study shows that online reviews influence the emotional process of users a lot more than cognitive process. During the trial, the emotions are more easily altered or aroused. It has also been observed that negative reviews tend to alter emotions more significantly. However, positive reviews do not have a significant effect. This also shows that users have a tendency to doubt positive reviews.
Studies also show reviews of entertaining apps (games for eg.) have a higher influence than those of functional apps. A plausible reason is that for functional apps consumers focus more on getting utility, and hence judge apps in a more rational way.
Another factor which influences decision to buy the app is the presence of mixed reviews. Mixed reviews provide contrasting information and tend to weaken the emotion-trial attitude towards functional apps. On the other hand, they strengthen the emotion-trial attitude towards entertaining apps.
This study shows that there is fair amount of negative bias which is generated towards entertaining apps. Hence for such apps, it becomes important that the developers focus more on adding new features and enhance user experience during the trial period. It also becomes imperative that the developers resolve any negative issue or review at the earliest. The better they handle such reviews the higher the chance of generating more sales.
Trying Before Buying: The Moderating Role of Online Reviews in Trial Attitude Formation Toward Mobile Applications
Authors: Guei-Hua Huang and Nikolaos Korfiatis