"More than 1,200 apps are released each day, and we found a number of ways to determine which ones would be the most successful," said Professor Raghu Santanam, one of the study's authors, who teaches in the Information Systems Department at the W P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
"For example, simply providing updates for an existing app can really add to its popularity," he said.
Santanam and doctoral student Gun Woong Lee tracked individual apps and their presence on the 'Top 300' charts in Apple's App Store over 39 weeks.
The final dataset covered about 7,600 apps by almost 4,000 sellers, and the researchers found a number of factors that make an app more attractive to buyers.
"Free app offers, high debut ranks, expanding into less popular categories, continuous quality updates and high user-review scores all have positive impacts on an app's sustainability," said Lee.
The study found that each time a seller just expands to a new app category, it bumps up that seller's presence on the top-grossing charts by about 15 percent.
The researchers also discovered that free apps generally stay on the charts up to two times longer than paid apps.
In addition, when sellers keep updating and improving the features in an app, it can help the app stay on the charts up to three times longer.
"For app sellers, it is a great idea to implement some type of portfolio-management strategy to app markets that focuses on developing multiple apps with low production costs," said Lee.
"Then, they can take advantage of a large network of different user groups by selling many apps in multiple categories and offering frequent updates to those apps," Lee said.
The study is published in the Journal of Management Information Systems.