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  • Writer's pictureSarah Brightmann

New Data Reveals a Decline in App Store Downloads in the United States

The U.S. App Store is currently witnessing a concerning phenomenon that is affecting both large and small companies alike: a significant decline in app downloads, even as the overall App Store revenue continues to grow. Recent data from app intelligence firm Appfigures paints a picture of an increasingly competitive landscape where many apps are losing ground, ultimately contributing to an overall reduction in app installations.

It's important to note that this trend isn't yet pervasive enough to unseat the dominant players in the app market. For instance, behemoths like Facebook continue to maintain their status as some of the most frequently downloaded apps each month. Nevertheless, the slowdown is substantial enough to warrant attention.

The analysis is specific to the U.S. App Store and relies on data collected through Appfigures' Mobile Market Index. This index meticulously tracks downloads and revenues for the top 25 apps in various categories and countries, comparing the data to January 1, 2018, as a reference point. This methodology allows for a comprehensive assessment of app growth trends over time.

In the previous year, the Mobile Download Index, which monitors app installations, stood at 91.87. Although it indicated a slight decrease from 2018 figures, the decline was relatively minor. However, as of August 31, 2023, the Index has plummeted to 83.59, marking a substantial drop of 8.28 points or a 9% decrease from its starting point. This decline signals a deteriorating trend that demands closer scrutiny from industry observers and app developers alike.

The Download Index has experienced a rollercoaster ride in the past year, with a notable spike in December 2022. This surge is a common occurrence, as the holiday season ushers in new devices and users with ample leisure time to explore new apps while taking a break from work. However, these gains were short-lived, as the Index plummeted to a low of 64.50 points by April, as indicated by the data.

It's worth noting that not all app categories are equally affected by this decline, according to insights from the firm. For instance, sports streaming apps introduced in recent years continue to expand their user base, medical apps are gaining popularity, and business apps maintain their steady appeal. Education, shopping, travel, and productivity apps also remain on a positive trajectory, bucking the downward trend.

Conversely, news, games, and entertainment apps have all witnessed double-digit declines, likely a consequence of oversaturation in these markets. Additionally, many apps across various categories are grappling with declines rather than growth.

Appfigures' co-founder and CEO, Ariel Michaeli, suggests that the gradual loss of appeal among prominent apps is a significant factor contributing to the Download Index's decline as newer entrants enter the market. While App Tracking Transparency has posed acquisition challenges, it may not be the primary driver behind this shift, he noted.

Indeed, recent months have seen notable changes at the pinnacle of the App Store, with Meta relinquishing its stronghold on the top Overall apps. This has created opportunities for other contenders like Bytedance's TikTok, CapCut, China-based shopping apps Temu and Shein, among others. As of the time of this report, only Meta's Threads occupies a position in the top 10 free non-game apps on the U.S. App Store, holding the No. 2 spot.

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