How Many Apps Do You Really Need?

On the 37Signals blog yesterday, Niall Larkin’s post on how many mobile apps people really struck a chord.
Larkin argues he only needs 10 apps, mostly because the iPhone comes with many of the apps (e.g. Safari, photos, weather, Mail) he uses all the time. It’s a great point that talks to one of the dirty little secrets of the mobile world: most people only use a few apps but they really like the idea of having thousands of options.
It’s one of the reasons for the iPhone’s massive appeal, while the BlackBerry gets roundly criticized for the shortcomings of BlackBerry App World. Truth be told, BlackBerry App World likely has most of the apps people really need but it gets pounded for not offering thousands of more options.
It’s probably not unlike going to Denny’s, which features a menu with dozens of choices. I suspect the majority of people eat a small number of items, which lets Denny’s offer multiple options with the knowledge that many of them will not be selected.
In the technology world, however, perception is often reality. Consumers like the idea of choice, options and features even though they many not use many of them. It’s the same reason why consumers upgrade devices, hardware and software when what they have is perfectly good.
When it comes to my personal use of apps on my iPhone, most of my time is sucked up by TweetBot, Safari and the camera. Once in awhile, I’ll use Yelp, Dialvetica, Tweeb, AroundMe, Tumblr and Angry Birds. In total, that’s nine apps so I’m clearly in the same camp as Larkin. That said, there are 81 apps on my iPhone, which means most of them collect a lot of digital dust.
So how many apps do you really use or need? And if you had to pay for apps, how many would you have on your device?

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