Are you a mobile application hoarder?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: November 12, 2011

Three years ago when I was a huge BlackBerry buff, I always had my nose buried in my phone. But I wasn't playing through a pile of flash game rip-offs or endlessly searching through pages upon pages of utility and social applications. Not because apps and games sucked back then – which they definitely did – but because options were extremely slim. At the time, Research In Motion's BlackBerry App World was not yet available and app selection was pretty scarce. If there was an app I wanted or needed, there was no easy way to hunt it down ... other than the age-old Google search, of course.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Android has entered the scene guns a-blazin' and Apple's App Store has grown exponentially over a relatively short period. Collectively, the two have reached well over a half million applications and counting. Windows Phone, though it hasn't managed to gather a lot of market or mind share, has somehow gained the attention of developers. Even App World has come around and has a respectable collection of apps to call its own.

Unlike before, there are virtually applications for everything: locating nearby areas of interest and restaurants, banking apps, mountains of social media clients, third-party browsers, etc. Chances are, if your phone is lacking a specific function out-of-box, you can take to the respective application store and will likely find something that suits your needs. In fact, you'll probably find a handful of duplicates.

The other day, I was tapping out an article while eating dinner with my mother and watching television. (I guess this is what you would call a 21st century family dinner.) I'm not much on "reality" television, but there was an intriguing show on while we were stuffing our faces: Hoarders. I have watched it before and it's definitely nothing particularly new or inspiring. As I watched this clearly insane man cry over someone throwing away a "perfectly good" unpaired glove that he never recalled seeing before, however, it made me realize that I'm not so different from him. I may not collect every trinket under the sun and the joists in the floor of my apartment may not be cracking under the sheer weight of the pile of junk in my living room. But I'm just as bad as him in my own little way.

Since this surge of smartphone app development, I have become a bit of a hoarder of a new breed. I collect applications. Granted, this isn't as bad as a potentially life-threatening wall of useless junk that someone refuses to get rid of because they may one day find a use for each individual item. But I have somewhere around 400 applications linked to my accounts, waiting for me to download and use them.

I do pay full price for several apps, especially if I know the developer or have had a pleasant experience with their apps in the past. In that case, I will usually make sure I pay full price and put a little more bread on their table. But when it comes to extremely niche applications, or if they're from a developer I've never heard of before, I will usually wait until the app goes on sale or use the free version as long as possible (these are usually ad-supported and still put money in the developer's pocket).

Features like the Free App of the Day in Amazon's Appstore (though it's dirty business, I still download the app of the day from time to time, simply because I feel that if the developer has not done their due diligence and researched the crookedness of Amazon's daily application deals, it's on them at this point, not the buyer) and applications like App Shopper on iOS have turned me into a bargain shopping, mobile app hoarder. I am constantly on the prowl for deals on apps, applications that I don't really have a use for at the moment, but might one day come in handy. When I'm perusing Android Market or App Store and I see "Introductory price" or "$X.XX for a limited time only" or "Free until [insert day of importance]," I am almost instantly compelled to snag the app while it's at a special price ... or free.

Of the hundreds of apps that I've managed to accrue, I can honestly say I've probably only used 10 or 20 of them. Of those, I've probably only used them once or twice. Of course, they're mine forever, and I just may find a use for them down the road, especially if the app improves with time.

Maybe it's because I'm trying to avoid future buyer's remorse. Or maybe I have some compulsive problem. (Hey, it doesn't hurt anything, right?) As it stands, though, I am a hoarder and the amount of time I find myself looking for mobile app deals is quickly getting out of hand.

What about you, ladies and gents? Do you hoard apps and snag even the most useless ones when they're on sale or free for a limited time? Do you ever end up using them down the road? Or do they sit, ready for that one time you might use them? Of those you have used, how many times have you used them?