Topic: App Store
Apple Provides Better Source Insights to App Developers (May 4, 2017)
Apple’s App Store Gets a Makeover – Bloomberg (Mar 21, 2017)
The headline makes it sound like there are changes coming to the App Store, but this story is really about all the changes that have already happened on the App Store since Phil Schiller took it over from Eddy Cue a little over a year ago. One of the notable things in the story is the impact that better analytics have had, and how that’s made it easier for more dynamic developers to update their apps more frequently in response to user behavior. More generally, though, the article suggests that big strides have been made in the way the App Store runs from a developer perspective, which is a story that hasn’t been told much. It’s been subtle, and if you’re just a user you might not be aware of most of these changes, but better experiences for developers make for better end user experiences too. I know there are still lots of developers, especially Mac-centric developers, who have complaints they feel have gone unheeded, but Apple has at least made some progress in fixing big pain points on the iOS side.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a claim like this – Apple has been hinting at dropping apps that haven’t made the switch to 64-bit from the App Store for quite some time. While it’s good to get some sense of how many apps might be affected – Sensor Tower says 8% or 187,000 apps – what’s missing from this analysis is whether any of those apps are actually ones people care about or use today. My guess is that there are very few apps in the App Store which haven’t been updated in years and still see significant usage – I can only think of one app I use today which would fall into this category, and that’s because it’s been superseded by a new version which dropped some features I use. So even though the number here sounds dramatic, my guess is that dropping these apps in iOS 11 – if that is indeed what’s going to happen – will have minimal negative impact on users, and potentially remove some dead wood from the App Store in the process.
Making More Outside The Mac App Store – Rogue Amoeba (Feb 10, 2017)
Some interesting data points here from Rogue Amoeba, one of the medium-sized Mac app developers which has recently pulled the last of its apps from the official Mac App Store, and has seen roughly similar unit sales and slightly higher total revenues as a result. Although the iOS App Store continues to be the only way to get apps onto an iPhone or iPad, that’s not the case with the Mac, and frustrations over sandboxing, limited business model options, and the lack of formal upgrade mechanisms among other things have driven a number of prominent developers to eschew the MAS for direct sales. It continues to be fascinating how Apple’s approach to the Mac App Store has been so much less successful, in part due to the longstanding existence of alternatives, but in part also due to Apple’s inflexibility and lack of support for key developer requests. For all Apple’s strength and success with developers broadly, its Mac developer story is a lot less compelling.
via Rogue Amoeba
App downloads up 15 percent in 2016, revenue up 40 percent thanks to China – TechCrunch (Jan 17, 2017)
Two things are worth noting about all the data presented here: firstly, apps are still growing massively, putting the lie to the idea that native mobile apps are somehow dead, to be replaced by some combination of better web apps, bots, or something else. The number of apps being downloaded is growing rapidly each year rather than stagnating or slowing down. The second point is that there continues to be a massive disparity between usage and spending when it comes to Android and iOS. See the first and fourth charts in this article – the first shows massively more Android apps downloaded than iOS apps, while the fourth shows double the spending on those iOS apps relative to Android. It continues to be far more profitable for developers to make apps for iOS, even with a smaller user base and far fewer apps downloaded. That, in turn, seems likely to reinforce the pattern that the vasty majority of big new apps get launched on iOS first, and Android second (if ever). That continues to be one of Apple’s big ecosystem advantages.
China Orders Registration of App Stores – NYTimes (Jan 14, 2017)
In and of itself, this new move by the Chinese government can be seen as relatively innocuous – the regulation is vague, and ostensibly motivated by policing the plethora of alternative app stores that exists in a market where the official Google Play store is unavailable. However, in the context of the recent request to remove the NY Times app from the App Store in China, this definitely has more sinister undertones. Having policed the web for years, China now appears to be trying to find ways to police the app stores as well, as a way to block access to content critical of the regime. This could end up getting very ugly for Apple in particular if it carries on.
This has always struck me as one of the more implausible legal challenges to Apple, and it fended off the first round through a technicality. Now, however, a higher court has overruled the technical objection and the case can proceed on its merits. I would still think it was a long shot that Apple could be successfully sued for monopolizing app storefronts for its own devices, but you never know. One more Apple lawsuit to keep an eye on.
Russia Requires Apple and Google to Remove LinkedIn From Local App Stores – The New York Times (Jan 6, 2017)
This comes hot on the heels of the Chinese New York Times app story earlier in the week, and there’s a danger of this becoming a trend. Apple and Google both tend to comply with local laws when it comes to this kind of thing, and that’s certainly a reasonable defense. But if oppressive regimes start to use the major app stores as a way to block content they don’t like, Apple and Google are going to find themselves on the receiving end of attacks from lots of civil liberties groups.
The numbers in this article, which appear to come straight from Apple, are fairly impressive – half of those who click on an ad in the App Store end up downloading the app. That’s measuring conversion rate differently from the usual method, which would be downloads / impressions, rather than clicks, but it’s still high. And the average cost is low too – 50 per click, and $1 per install, much lower than, say, Facebook. Advertising is never going to be a significant chunk of Apple’s revenue, but this could turn into a nice little revenue stream over time, and it has a lot in common with Google’s search advertising, combining timeliness and relevance.
App Store Shatters Records on New Year’s Day – Apple (Jan 5, 2017)
These new numbers from Apple reinforce the sense that Service revenues, driven largely by the App Store, continue to be the company’s most consistent growth driver. Payments to developers were up 40% on 2015, for a total of $20 billion, while subscription billings alone were up 74% to $2.7 billion, or almost 10% of the total. That 40% year on year growth rate is fairly consistent over the past year or two, as the rise of IAP accelerated growth above levels in 2012-2013. All of this also reinforces Apple’s argument to Wall Street that Services will grow even as device sales falter.