Can Sales of Desktop Apps Predict Successful Web Apps?

Attending FOWA a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about web apps in general. With the move from desktop to web-hosted software, I’m wondering if what’s selling now in desktop versions will be a good predictor for what people will pay for in web app form? (And note that I’m talking about paying. Popularity of free apps would be a different topic entirely.)

For inspiration, have a look at Amazon UK’s current software bestseller list. Here’s how it breaks down…

This is based on a categorisation of Amazon UK’s 100 best-selling software products by units sold.

The results are no doubt skewed towards the Amazon buyer demographic. I’d guess that gamers, for example, are under-represented. Also, the average purchase price varies quite significantly by category. Education items, in particular, tend to be quite cheap, whereas operating systems and office software are rather expensive.

Anyhow, it does give an interesting idea of what currently sells in large volumes. Hidden within those categories (especially ‘Other’) is a multitude of niche products, each of which manages to sell in healthy quantities.

But Web Apps are More Than That

Of course, moving online isn’t all about who hosts your software. It’s also about easier communication and collaboration (think Facebook, for example). Top web apps won’t necessarily just be online versions of anything that existing previously in desktop form. But many will, I think, take an idea that’s worked well in the desktop era and give it a few tweaks to take advantage of the web. See Gmail, for example.

Ideas for your Next Web App

In summary, if you’re looking for inspiration to build a web app, you could do worse than finding a popular desktop app that has yet to make it to the web.


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