New report examines the number of downloads needed to reach the top of the App Store – TechCrunch
A new analysis indicates that it has become harder to get an app to the top of the App Store, in terms of downloads, over the past few years. According to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the number of downloads needed for an app to enter the No. 1 position on Apple’s iPhone App Store in the US has increased by 37. % since 2019. Specifically, he estimates an app now requires around 156,000 downloads on any given day to reach the top spot, compared to 114,000 daily downloads in 2019.
But to be clear, downloads alone don’t move an app to the top of the rankings. This is just one of many factors taken into account by Apple’s ranking algorithm to manage its Top Charts.
In the early days of the App Store, Apple quickly realized that downloads alone would give developers an easy way to buy their way to the top spot.
It then expanded its ranking algorithm to make it more complex – and more mysterious. Another company, Apptopia, thinks they have reverse-engineered the current version of this algorithm, which would take into account many factors such as speed, application usage, amount of new users, etc.
That said, downloads are still part of the equation here and an interesting factor to consider, given how little information there is on how Apple’s App Store rankings actually work.
Among the new findings, Sensor Tower noted that Apple appeared to have adjusted the ranking algorithm to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
It reports that in 2020, the number of downloads of an app to reach the top spot on the US App Store reached a record 185,000, up 62% year-over-year. This would be in line with the overall increase seen in app downloads and usage occurring as consumers stayed home under government lockdowns, while schools, shops and workplaces closed.
However, it was easier to achieve the same position on Google Play back then, as the number of required daily downloads only increased by 5% year-on-year to 87,000 in 2020.
Since then, the number of daily downloads needed to reach No. 1 has declined in both markets 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 on the App Store, as shown above, but Android apps now only need 56,000 installs , down 33% from the 83,000 required in 2019.
Getting into the US App Store top 10 also requires more effort than reaching the same position on Google Play.
According to the report’s findings, it now takes around 52,000 daily downloads to enter the overall Top 10 on the App Store, up 2% from the 51,000 needed to reach the Top 10 in 2019. But Android apps only need 29,000 daily downloads, which is down 9% from 2019 levels.
Still, these numbers are approximations obtained from trends in the respective app stores.
Looking at the numbers in more detail by category, we see different trends. For example, on the App Store, it is more difficult to enter the Top 10 free iPhone applications for those classified in the Entertainment category than for others such as Shopping, Social networks, Travel or Finance. Android is similar in that it also sees Entertainment as needing more daily installs, but this is followed by Shopping, Tools, Finance, then Communication.
It’s worth pointing out that these trends only apply to mobile apps, no mobile games. It is quite another matter.
When it comes to mobile games, Sensor Tower found that iPhone games now require a median of 93,000 downloads to reach No. 1, while Android games require 37,000 installs. Those numbers are down from 2019 levels, down 46% and 68%, respectively.
The report also notes that, historically, it has taken fewer installs for games to enter the Top 10. So far in 2022, iPhone games have required 26,000 daily downloads to reach the Top 10, down from 40% from 43,000 in 2019. And Android games only needed 16,000 daily installs, down 52% from 33,000 in 2019.
While much of the new report focuses on the US market, Sensor Tower looked at how the US Top 10 compares to other countries.
Here he found that it is much more difficult for non-gaming apps in China to reach the Top 10 – requiring more than double the number of daily downloads as in the US at 108,000 (China) compared to 52 000 (US)
But on Android, India is the toughest market to dominate, requiring 292,000 daily downloads to hit the Top 10 free rankings for non-gaming apps.
While the data here is worth investigating, this analysis doesn’t take into account the other factors apps and games need to climb the rankings, so it’s not a complete picture of how or why apps can climb to the top of app stores.
Additionally, there have been hints that Apple may have adjusted its algorithms even further in recent weeks as bigger apps like Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat and others have taken ranking hits since mid- around April, Apptopia told us last month, when we asked how relatively unknown apps found their way into the Top 10. This could be a more permanent test or change meant to give smaller apps a chance to stand out. and to be discovered among the tech giants, but it will take more time to conduct this analysis.
Still, this kind of tweaking could help highlight a variety of apps that benefit from marketing, promotions, and other trends. This might explain why Planet Fitness is #2 on the top free charts in the US today, for example – the company gave teens free gym passes for the summer. Meanwhile, DIRECTV’s recent consolidation of its apps propelled it to No. 3, while new social networking app LiveIn, popular among teens, now sits higher than Facebook and Snapchat at No. 7.