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PDF (1.30 MB)
Pages 202-209
First published 2 July 2012

App Epidemics: Modelling the Effects of Publicity in a Mobile App Ecosystem

Soo Ling Lim, Peter J. Bentley


In mobile app ecosystems, an app can behave like a virus. Once downloaded, it may cause its user to recommend that app to friends who then may download the app and "infect" other friends. Epidemics occur when a small number of downloads causes a snowballing effect that results in a massive number of downloads (and consequently, a rich developer). This paper presents AppEco, the first Artificial Life model of mobile application ecosystems. AppEco models the app store, app developers, apps, users, and their behaviour. We use AppEco to simulate Apple's iOS app ecosystem and investigate common publicity strategies adopted by developers and their effects on app downloads. Specifically, we investigate three causal factors for a widespread "app infection" from epidemiology: the users' exposure to the app, the users' susceptibility to the app, and the infectiousness of the app.