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niche app

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A niche app is a specialized application, typically designed with social networking built in and optimized for mobile devices. 

Niche apps are generally created to serve a limited function, whether providing a particular service or connecting people who share a common interest. The idea is to do a single thing and do it well, rather than trying to provide multiple options to suit a broader audience. Niche apps tend to target the millennial demographic, which is the largest and most active market for mobile apps.

Here are a few examples of niche apps:

  • Flatchat connects potential flatmates, prospective owners and other seekers by providing location- and requirement- based matches. 
  • Tatchat is a dating app that connects tattoo enthusiasts.
  • ESPN Fantasy Football Fantasy Football allows users to create teams and leagues, conduct a mock draft and share their top picks.
  • NYT Now provides a sampling of the day's headlines from the New York Times and from around the Web.
  • Yahoo Weather provides Flickr photos of user locations and current conditions, backed by forecasts.
  • The Scoop is a guide to New York City. NYT editors share their favorite restaurants, bars, coffee shops, performances and day trips. 

Niche apps can be seen as a divergence from the large, generalized social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The interest in single- or limited-purpose apps is driven by the increasing prevalence of mobile computing, especially on smartphones. Mobile devices have limited computing resources and a much smaller screen than desktops, which means that navigating through an interface developed for desktop computers is generally cumbersome. Niche apps allow users to get to exactly what they're looking for immediately. 

In February 2014, the New York Times recorded 18.3 million unique visitors connecting through smartphones or tablets and 30 million unique visitors connecting through desktop computers. Six months later, the numbers were nearly identical: Desktop unique visitors remained steady at 30 million, but mobile unique visitors had shot up to 30.5 million.

This was last updated in July 2015

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I wasn't familiar with this term, 'niche app.' I would think a niche app would be a business niche, like 'accounting software.' Having a socia media angle is new to me, but it makes sense.
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I think we have apples and oranges here. Of course apps and social media sites are divergent from each other; they're totally different things.

Some of the apps I'm running are complex and designed for general purpose, nor niche, use. Whether it's Weather Bug or Remote Desktop or a myriad of film (and word) editing programs, each is a complete programs with a singular focus.

Complex environments like Facebook and Twitter are no more an "app" than Microsoft or Apple are apps.
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