App downloads dropped in September ahead of iPhone 4S launch

Oct 26, 2011
Tech

Fewer apps were downloaded from the iTunes App Store in September 2011 than at any point during the rest of the year. Blame the iPhone 4S. A new analysis from marketing technology company Fiksu finds that App Store downloads dropped to 3.8 million for the month from 4.06 million in August. This was the biggest […]

Fewer apps were downloaded from the iTunes App Store in September 2011 than at any point during the rest of the year. Blame the iPhone 4S.

A new analysis from marketing technology company Fiksu finds that App Store downloads dropped to 3.8 million for the month from 4.06 million in August. This was the biggest drop off by the App Store (at 6 percent) since Fiksu started measuring back in May, according to a story from TechCrunch. Fiksu’s numbers come from measuring the top 200 free apps in the App Store.

Fiksu blames the run-up to the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S in October for the stark fall-off in downloads. The early portion of this month marked not only the announcement and subsequent release of the iPhone 4S, but also the release of Apple’s iOS 5, the latest iteration of its mobile operating system. New features in iOS 5 brought some increased capabilities by apps and Apple’s software in general, and it might make sense that users wanted to wait to see what new phone they might be using, or how iOS 5 would change the game, before purchasing some apps.

The launch of the iPhone 4S isn’t just Fiksu’s excuse for a drop in sales, it’s also Apple’s, although Apple blamed the phone for a decline in sales of the iPhone 4 in the last quarter of its fiscal year 2011. Apple said the imminent launch of the iPhone 4S, along with lots of rumors floating around the Internet, led buyers to bide their time and see what might happen with Apple’s new smartphone. That led to a drop in sales for the quarter of about 3 million units compared to the same period the year before: 17.1 million iPhones were sold in the quarter in 2011, compared to 20.1 million in 2010.

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Fiksu also reported seeing a drop in what it calls “organic app downloads” in September. Organic downloads are those created by users actively seeking out an app, rather than just finding one after seeing an ad for it. The drop in September in organic downloads was about 4 percent; it wasn’t nearly as stark as the 35 percent drop that occurred in October.

It just recently came to light that the Android Market had surpassed the iTunes App Store in app sales – something of an inevitable occurrence, given how many more Android users there are than iOS users – but with the record-breaking launch of the iPhone 4S is going to herald a big boost in App Store sales. It’ll be interesting to see how the numbers change next quarter, with an entire new U.S. carrier joining the iPhone stable.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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