Has the mobile app market become a private club?

Has the mobile app market become a private club?

The top ranks of mobile apps aren't changing much anymore.

If you think the mobile app marketplace remains a wide-open gold rush where anyone with a good idea and some decent programming skills can change the world, you're living in the past.

A look at the most recent comScore numbers of the top 15 U.S. mobile apps from June 2015 tells a very clear story. The vast majority of the most popular apps are owned by huge public companies, and the list has hardly changed in the past year.

Here is comScore's list of the top 15 apps from June 2015:

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Facebook Messenger
  4. Google Search
  5. Google Play
  6. Google Maps
  7. Pandora Radio
  8. Gmail
  9. Instagram
  10. Yahoo Stocks
  11. Apple Maps
  12. iTunes Radio/iCloud
  13. Amazon Mobile
  14. Twitter
  15. Snapchat
The first thing you notice is that internet giants Google (5), Facebook (3), Apple (2) , Yahoo, Amazon and Twitter own 12 of the 15 leaders. Only Pandora and Snapchat are not part of some massive public company. Strikingly, there aren't any games at all!

But hey, maybe this year's list is an anomaly, and these corporate warriors have just now taken over from a bunch of scrappy upstarts. Or maybe not, as a look at last year's comScore list quickly reveals:

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Google Play
  4. Google Search
  5. Pandora Radio
  6. Google Maps
  7. Gmail
  8. Instagram
  9. Yahoo Stocks
  10. Facebook Messenger
  11. Apple Maps
  12. Yahoo Weather Widget
  13. iTunes Radio/iCloud
  14. Twitter
  15. Google+
The lists are remarkably similar. A few positions have changed, notably the rise of Facebook Messenger from Number 10 to Number 3, following the company's move to remove messaging functionality from its main mobile app. But only ONE new app makes the 2015 list, as Snapchat edged its way in to replace the fading Google+ at number 15.

See also: Why I won't write a requiem for Google+

This kind of stability isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many people use many of the top apps, and they are typically very well done and very useful. More to the point, perhaps, the mobile market is so big that there is likely plenty of room for smaller players to find success below the level of the top 15 apps.

But that gold rush/wild west idea I mentioned above, that's pretty much over. These days, mobile app landscape looks a lot more like a cross between Wall Street and a mainstream shopping mall.

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