The Message In An App’s Popularity

What does it mean when an “app” is popular?  Does it convey a deep message about social trends?  Or, does it only indicate that some iPhone and iPad nerds liked the concept, or the price, or having a hot new “app” to yak endlessly about?

It may be worth asking that question, because the “Obama Clock” app has quickly shot to the top of the “app” charts.  The “Obama Clock” app includes a running countdown, in days, hours, minutes, and seconds, to the next presidential inauguration.  It also provides updated information on President Obama’s approval rating, the unemployment rate, the per-gallon cost of gasoline, and movement in a housing price index.  The “Obama Clock” app is at the very top of the “reference” app sales — where it competes with the likes of the world atlas and other informational apps — and is in the top 50 apps overall.

It probably isn’t a good sign for the President that the “Obama Clock” app has done so well.  It’s not like the information reported in the updates is good news that reflects well on his performance.  Still, I wouldn’t read too much into the app’s popularity.  A stampede of purchases by conservative iPhone users — the app costs only 99 cents — could easily skew the results.  And the President and his reelection team can take comfort in the fact that the “Obama Clock” app still trails SPY mouse, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja.  If the President were up against SPY mouse in November 2012, he might have more cause for immediate concern.