New report examines the number of downloads required to reach the top of the App Store – TechCrunch

New report examines the number of downloads required to reach the top of the App Store – TechCrunch

A new analysis shows that getting an app to the top of the App Store in terms of downloads has become more difficult in recent years. According to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the number of downloads required for an app to climb to #1 in Apple’s iPhone App Store in the US has increased by 37% since 2019. Specifically, it estimates an app now needs around 156,000 downloads on any given day to reach the top spot, up from 114,000 daily downloads in 2019.

But to be clear, downloads alone don’t get an app to the top of the charts. It’s just one of several factors that Apple’s ranking algorithm takes into account when managing its top charts.

In the early days of the App Store, Apple soon realized that downloads alone would provide developers with an easy way to buy their way to #1.

It then expanded its ranking algorithm to make it more complex — and more mysterious. Another company, Apptopia, believes that they reverse engineered the current version of this algorithm, which is said to take into account numerous factors such as speed, app usage, number of new users, and more.

That said, downloads are still part of the equation here, and an interesting factor to explore given how little information there is on how Apple’s App Store ranks actually work.

Among the new findings, Sensor Tower noted that Apple appears to have adjusted the ranking algorithm to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

It is reported that in 2020, the number of downloads it took for an app to become #1 in the US App Store hit a record high of 185,000, a 62% increase from the previous year. That would match the overall surge in app downloads and usage that has occurred as consumers stayed home under state lockdowns while schools, businesses and workplaces were closed.

Achieving the same position on Google Play was easier back then, however, as the number of daily downloads required grew just 5% year over year to 87,000 in 2020.

Since then, the number of daily downloads required to reach #1 has declined across both marketplaces as post-Covid trends (or rather, post-lockdown trends) have normalized app usage.

This year, Sensor Tower estimates that apps need to reach a median of 156,000 daily installs to reach #1 in the App Store, as noted above, but Android apps now only require 56,000 installs, down 33% from the 83,000 that were required in 2019.

Jumping into the top 10 on the US App Store also requires more effort than achieving the same position on Google Play.

According to the report’s findings, it now takes about 52,000 daily downloads to make the App Store top 10, up 2% from the 51,000 required to make the top 10 in 2019. But Android apps only require 29,000 daily downloads, down 9% from 2019.

Nevertheless, these numbers are approximate values ​​that result from trends in the respective app stores.

A closer look at the figures per category reveals different trends. For example, in the App Store, it’s harder to break into the top 10 free iPhone apps for those classified in the entertainment category than for others like shopping, social, travel, or finance. Android is similar in that Entertainment also takes more daily installs, but it’s followed by Shopping, Tools, Finance, and then Communications categories.

It should be noted that these trends only apply to mobile devices app, no mobile games. That’s a whole different thing.

Looking at mobile games, Sensor Tower found that iPhone games now require a median of 93,000 downloads to reach #1, while Android games require 37,000 installs. Those numbers are down 46% and 68%, respectively, from 2019 levels.

The report also notes that in the past it took fewer installs for games to make the top 10. So far in 2022, iPhone games required 26,000 daily downloads to make the top 10, down 40% from 43,000 in 2019. And Android games required just 16,000 daily installs, down 52% from 33,000 in 2019.

While much of the new report focuses on the US market, Sensor Tower has examined how the US’s top 10 compares to other countries.

It turned out that non-game apps in China have a much harder time making the top 10 – they require more than double the daily downloads of the US, at 108,000 (China) versus 52,000 (US).

But on Android, the toughest market to top is India, which requires 292,000 daily downloads to make the top 10 in the free non-gaming app charts.

While the data here is worth investigating, this analysis doesn’t take into account the other factors apps and games need to climb the charts, so it doesn’t give a complete picture of how or why apps are able to climb to the top of the app stores.

Additionally, there have been some indications that Apple may have adjusted its algorithms even more in recent weeks, as larger apps like Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat, and others have suffered ranking hits since around mid-April, Apptopia told Us last month asked how relatively unknown apps made their way into the top 10. This could be a test or a more permanent change designed to give smaller apps a chance to stand out and be spotted amidst the tech giants, but more time is needed to complete this analysis.

Still, this type of optimization could help highlight a variety of apps that benefit from marketing, promotions, and other trends. For example, this could explain why Planet Fitness is now #2 on the top free chart in the US – the company gave teens free gym passes for the summer. Meanwhile, DIRECTV’s recent consolidation of its apps has propelled it to #3, while newcomer social networking app LiveIn, popular with teens, now sits higher than Facebook and Snapchat at #7.

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