The Rise and Fall of Superstars: Examining Mobile App Success from a Product Network Perspective

Date
2020
Authors
Jozani, Mohsen M.
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Abstract

App discovery remains a major challenge for app developers and marketing teams. In this study, I propose that mobiles apps inherently form a cohesive product network through the product recommendations offered by the platform, which exhibits interesting dynamics and can be used to understand the determinants of success in mobile app markets. Integrating the theory of Leader-member Exchange with the social network framework of leadership effectiveness from organizational network literature, a dynamic product lifecycle framework is developed to examine how the social network principles of Relations, Embeddedness, Structural Patterning, and Social Utility influence top chart appearance and position patterns of mobile apps. To validate the theoretical framework, I construct a comprehensive panel dataset with more than 1 million daily observations from 36,000 apps over a period of seven (7) months from both Google Play and Apple App Store. Through a wide range of econometric and social network analyses, I empirically show that the type of the network connections to leader apps significantly influences a non-leader app's chance to appear in the top chart and that the attributes of the virtual product recommendation network are strongly associated with the patterns of position change on a mobile top chart. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications for developers, platform operators, and marketing teams in the mobile app markets.

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Keywords
google play, mobile app, product network, recommendation system, social network analysis, top chart
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Department
Information Systems and Cyber Security