Are Apps and App Stores Declining?

Hello dear reader!

A few days ago, AppFigures published a very interesting study showing that there currently is a decline in Apps and App Stores. It shows some very curious trends in the mobile App development world. You can read the study here. Recently I was talking with some friends about what this shows and I thought it would be interesting to share some of my opinions and why I believe this is happening. So, without further ado, let’s get started ;).app store image

The first thing AppFigures shows is that both Apple’s App Store and Google Play were growing consistently all the way up to 2017, when they split. Google Play continued to grow at a pretty good rate of about 30% to more than 3.6 million apps. Apple’s App Store however, headed in a very different direction.  It shrunk. At the end of 2017 there were roughly 2.1 million iOS apps available in the App Store, a decrease of 5% when compared to the 2.2 million apps that were available in the beginning of the year. You can see this in the graph below:


So why did this happen? This is probably due to Apple becoming even more strict on their review guidelines, forcing developers to constantly update their apps and menacing them with removing them if they didn’t comply. Furthermore, the removal of all Apps that didn’t support 32 bits (one of the most controversial decisions of iOS 11) meant that there was a huge purge in the App Store. Apple has said more than once that the App Store should be tricked as a luxury compendium of Apps, not as a mass market.

But the trend doesn’t stop there, while the reasons given above do justify the decline in growth, what happens when we look at shipped apps?


Android developers kept busy, and in the last year alone released more than 1.5 million new apps. This is an increase of about 17% year over year, the largest jump since 2014. iOS developers on the other hand, took their time releasing just 755k new apps in 2017. That’s a big drop! 29% to be precise, the first drop since the App Store launched in 2008.

So why? I think the App Store is just showing a trend earlier than Google Play, but it is really interesting to see that decline. While it is true that Apple platforms are more costly to develop for (starting with the steep 100$ fee per year), I think there is also a very interesting idea being born here. When the app stores launched it was a huge gold rush, it empowered anyone with coding skills to ship software, there was no physical distribution needed and all the payments were handled easily. Many people had the idea that you could magically whip up an App on a store and become a millionaire pretty easily. However, now everyone knows the truth. Success in App requires immense work. An App starts with design, continues with a powerful and scalable backend, a skilled execution and coding optimisation and a massive marketing effort. So how much does it depend on luck? Very little in my opinion

I believe that the figure of the lone developer thinking he/she can make a quick buck in a few days is going to disappear. The world of Apps is really competitive and it’s time to raise the bar if you want a share of the pie. Fewer Apps mean that the entry barriers have changed, what once was payments and distribution, now is quality.

What do you think? How do you see this trend? Drop me a line in the comments! Feel free to let me know what you would like the next post to be about!

Thanks for reading!