App discovery: the challenge that keeps beckoning

Ever since the big mobile app wave began almost four years ago, there have been services touting their ability to help consumers find apps and help developers get their apps discovered. The market for app discovery has gotten increasingly crowded with all kinds of competitors and yet, the rush to solve the problem continues. The latest example is App-o-Day, a new free app of the day service from former Outfit7 CEO Andrej Nabergoj, who helped build up the Talking Friends franchise.

App-o-Day, through its iOS app (s aapl), website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, offers consumers a daily way to discover and download a paid iOS app for free. The app is selected by the staff of Iddiction, the company behind App-o-Day and only one app is featured a day. The idea is is to create a high quality, focused destination to help bring together app users and developers, kind of like a Groupon for apps.

But if this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because there are plenty of other services offering similar help. Amazon (s amzn) offers a free app each day in its Appstore for Android (s goog). Tapjoy launched a portal to help discover new apps and Fiksu launched FreemyApps, which allows users to download sponsor apps and get paid apps for free. This is in addition to other established app discovery services like Freeappaday, AppsFire, AppBrain, Zwapp, Quixey and others.

Nabergoj tells me that App-o-Day will stand out because of its focus on the best apps and its ability to bring one new app deal to users each day. That should keep consumers coming, said Nabergoj, and should also be attractive to developers, who have trouble maintaining their place in the paid ranks of Apple App Store.

I agree that there’s a need to help paid app developers out. While many apps go freemium, developers who want to get paid for a download are increasingly challenged to drive downloads. And with more than half a million apps in the App Store, it’s a tough job for consumers to find new apps.

That’s apparently why Apple bought app discovery engine Chomp, because even with features like Genius and other ways to highlight apps, Apple seems to understand that discovery is still an issue for consumers and thus its developers. But the challenge for App-o-Day is to keep providing the apps that people actually want. Today’s free app is Baldify, more of a novelty app that I’m not sure people are clamoring for.

But as long as we keep developers keep riding the app boom, we’re going to keep seeing more of these services aimed at better discovery. There’s so much money being invested in apps, it’s hard to stay away. Juniper Research forecast app revenues could hit $32 billion by 2015.¬†That’s likely what’s motivating Iddiction’s investors¬†Comcast Ventures (s cmsk), Highland Capital Partners, IDG Ventures and Playdom founder Rich Thompson, who plunked down $3.5 million in November.

Will all of these discovery services survive? No. But it’s just like the app game for developers. Many are diving into the app bonanza but a small minority actually make big money. But with more and more developers and companies piling into app stores, there’s going to be more services touting their ability to make sense of it all.