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Christmas Continues To Set App Download Records In Spite Of Slowing Growth and Globalization of App Market

  
  
  

As we said in previous posts, connected devices have become part of our Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions. This marks a change from just a few years ago when smartphones and tablets represented exciting new additions to our lives that we couldn’t wait to unwrap, activate, and start filling up with apps. 

Flurry’s data showed another record-breaking level of app downloads this Christmas, but it also provides further evidence that, in the early mobile markets at least, devices are evolving from being our new shiny toys to our everyday companions.

For this report, we looked across more than 400,000 apps that Flurry tracks globally to see what happened around the Christmas tree. We found that Christmas downloads were up by 91% compared to an average day in the first three weeks of December. That is a large increase, but as shown below, the size of the Christmas download spike is diminishing over time as the app market matures and globalizes. 

Christmas Charts Part 2 2.3 resized 600

More Signs the App Market is Maturing

2013 was the biggest Christmas yet for mobile app downloads. As the chart below shows, overall app downloads increased by 11% on Christmas 2013 compared to Christmas 2012.  Over the same one year time span, there was a 25% increase in app downloads on an average December day. As the data illustrates, both the overall rate of year-on-year growth and the year-on-year Christmas growth have slowed considerably in the past year (from 97% and 90% respectively between 2011 and 2012).

Christmas Charts Part 2 2.1 resized 600

The slowing growth rates and smaller Christmas Day app download spike signal market maturation. Many consumers in Western Europe and English-speaking countries -- large mobile markets where Christmas is a big holiday -- already have a smartphone and / or a tablet. Fewer people are coming online with mobile for the very first time. Consumers who are on second, third or fourth devices have apps that they like and trust, and while they still download new apps, there isn’t much more impetus to do so on Christmas than any other day when they have a little downtime. New device activations do still spike on Christmas, but that spike is waning compared to years past, and it comes on top of a much larger installed base. That means that when new devices are loaded with apps, the overall impact on app download volume is not as big.

The biggest growth in mobile now is coming in countries where Christmas is a less significant holiday or not celebrated at all, so new device activations and app downloads come at different times of the year in those places. And because those high-growth areas are joining an already large global market, overall growth rates are less striking than when the mobile market was new.

Leisure-Oriented Apps Experience the Biggest Christmas Lift

To look at the types of apps that see the greatest increase in downloads at Christmas, we indexed the numbers by comparing Christmas to an average day in the first three weeks of December to eliminate inflation due to the continued growth of the overall connected device installed base.

After doing that, we see a similar phenomenon to what happened on Thanksgiving. Because our devices have become so intertwined with our lives, on a day like Christmas when most of us are relaxing, the apps we download reflect that. Games and social apps were downloaded on Christmas at twice the rate they were on a typical December day. The other categories that experienced the largest surge in Christmas downloads were media (photo, video, music) and lifestyle (sports, books, magazines, entertainment).

Christmas Charts Part 2 2.2 resized 600

Are Prospects Changing For App Developers?

Maturation of the app market means that changes are in store for app developers. The gold rush days of huge jumps in the overall size of the connected device installed base on Christmas, followed by a dizzying rush of app downloads are fading. Of course, there will still be apps that tap into some vein of consumer interest or amusement and developers who strike it rich as a consequence. But overall, the successful developers in 2014 and beyond will be those who put in the hard work of identifying a target group of users, creating apps that work well for them, and continually refining and reinventing mobile experiences to profitably retain those users. We’ll talk more about that in early 2014. 

Amazon Delivers A Great Christmas For Its Kindle

  
  
  

In less than a decade, connected devices have become an integral part of Christmas. They are commonly wished for and given as gifts, and Christmas is the biggest day of the year for new device activations. That tradition continued this Christmas, with device activations up by 63% compared to an average day in the first three weeks of December.

To identify what types of devices are most gifted, we compared new device activations on Christmas to the average for the first three weeks of December. This approach adjusts for the fact that the smartphone and tablet installed base is growing all the time, and therefore a large part of the difference between one Christmas and the next is a result of growth in the installed base rather than increased Christmas giving.

Who Needs Drones When You Have Reindeer?

The chart below shows the smartphone and tablet manufacturers that experience the greatest increase in activations on Christmas compared to a typical December day. For the past three years, Amazon has been the brand of device that has experienced the largest bump in Christmas activations compared to its normal level of activations.

Christmas Charts 12.26.2013 1.2 resized 600

We believe price, business model, target market, and form factor all contribute to the big boost in Kindle activations at Christmas relative to other times of the year. Amazon sells Kindle tablets at cost, putting them within the Christmas budgets of more people than some other devices. The reason Amazon sells tablets at cost is that for them tablets are a channel for promoting physical goods and promoting and delivering digital content. That same retail business model means that Amazon is top of mind for many consumers during the holiday season, giving it lots of opportunity to promote its tablets as Christmas gifts. As we discussed prior to Christmas, Kindle’s new Mayday button makes it a particularly good gift for mobile newbies, and Amazon’s mass-market reach makes it available to those people. Last but not least, as we show subsequently, tablets in general, and WiFi tablets in particular, are the form factor that does best at Christmas, and many Kindles tick both of those boxes.

The combination of form factor and relatively low price probably also helps explain why Acer experiences a greater lift in Christmas activations than many other manufacturers, though the size of that bump is still only a fraction of what Amazon experiences.

In each of the past three years, Apple has experienced a larger Christmas lift than Samsung; however the gap between them narrowed this year compared to previous years. While the magnitude of the Christmas increase is smaller for these manufacturers than for Amazon, their baseline level of activations is so large that even a doubling of daily activations on Christmas (1.9x for Samsung and 2.3x for Apple this year, according to our data) represents a large number of devices.

Overall, while still significant, we can see that the size of the Christmas activation bump has declined over time for most manufacturers who ever had one. Even Amazon has dropped from forty-one times its baseline activations on Christmas 2011 to twenty-four on Christmas 2013. This is likely to be due to the increased overall penetration of smartphones and tablets, and is expected in a maturing industry. With more people having smartphones and tablets there are fewer new users to give them to, and giving to existing users is more challenging since existing users are already tied into carrier contract renewal cycles, app ecosystems, etc.

Wifi Tablets Are The Most Gifted Devices

As shown below, in each of the past three years WiFi tablets have been the most gifted devices, with activations this year more than six times greater on Christmas Day than on an average day in the first three weeks of December. Smartphones are the least gifted connected device form factor with cellular-enabled tablets in between. We believe WiFi tablets are the preferred connected device gift since they work out of the box. Cellular-enabled tablets and smartphones require a data plan, creating an adult gift recipient version of children receiving toys with “batteries not included”. WiFi tablets also tend to be among the least expensive connected devices, making them more accessible gifts for more people.

Christmas Charts 12.26.2013 1.1 resized 600

Will There Be An Amazon Smartphone In Time for Christmas 2014?

Yesterday CNET predicted that Amazon will come out with a smartphone in 2014. We agree. Three of the four factors that help boost Kindle sales at Christmas -- price, business model, and target market – also imply that it would make sense for Amazon to have a smartphone in its connected device portfolio. Whether it arrives by reindeer or drone, you may find one in your stocking next year. 

Apps: The New Thanksgiving Tradition (and Shopping is Just Part of the Story)

  
  
  

According to IBM, two out of five online retail visits in the U.S. on Black Friday were made from mobile devices, directly generating more than 20% of online retail sales. On Thanksgiving Day, smartphones and tablets accounted for an even greater share of online retail visits and sales (43% of visits and 26% of sales). These results show the extent to which connected devices now influence retail sales, but Flurry’s own Thanksgiving weekend data demonstrates that our relationships with our smartphones and tablets go well beyond picking up a Black Friday deal while picking at Thanksgiving leftovers.

App usage overall in the U.S. spiked by 25% on Thanksgiving compared to the previous Thursday, and not just as a result of shopping app use. The overall pattern of app usage over the Thanksgiving weekend demonstrates that smartphones and tablets have become the first truly personal computers, changing their function as we change our routines. To illustrate that point in this post, we take an in-depth look at U.S. app session starts from the day before Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday. We compare Thanksgiving week to the week prior, and also compare those time periods for the two previous years. (By including the weekends prior to Thanksgiving for each year we can distinguish between overall growth in app usage and use that is unique to Thanksgiving weekend.)

App Use Spikes on Thanksgiving

The chart below provides a high-level view of how overall app usage has changed from year to year, and changes between the week prior to Thanksgiving and the week of Thanksgiving. The gaps between the green, blue, and gray pairs of lines illustrate the extent to which app usage in the United States has grown year over year, with baseline usage the week before Thanksgiving up by about two-thirds compared to the same time last year, and about triple what it was during November of 2011.

FLR131201 1 Thanksgiving blog chart1 300dpi FA resized 600

The darker line in each color pair shows Thanksgiving weekend for a particular year while the lighter version shows the prior weekend for that year. The gap between the lighter and the darker lines in a color pair shows the difference in app usage by day between Thanksgiving weekend and the prior weekend. For the past three years, that difference has been greatest on Thanksgiving Day, diminishing to return to normal by Cyber Monday. In 2011 and 2012, U.S. app usage spiked by 20% on Thanksgiving Day compared to the previous Thursday. This year the Thanksgiving spike grew to 25%.

Given mobile devices are so personal, it’s no surprise that they tag along as we enjoy Thanksgiving weekend, but we wanted to understand the drivers behind the Thanksgiving spike in app usage. Is it just mobile shopping? Recipe apps aiding Thanksgiving cooks? Football fans checking stats from the couch? Social networking apps used to stay in touch with family far away? What accounts for the extra app sessions on Thanksgiving?

To find out, we compared app sessions by category for Thanksgiving weekend to the weekend before, focusing on the three days for which there is the biggest difference in overall app use.

The results are shown in the table below. The rows are app categories aggregated across operating systems. The columns show changes in app usage between Thanksgiving week and the same day the previous week for each category. Each cell shows that same comparison between Thanksgiving week and the previous week for the past three years.

FLR131201 1 Thanksgiving blog chart2 300dpi FA resized 600

Use of Shopping Apps Is Up Overall – Not Just On Black Friday

For obvious reasons, shopping apps consistently spike over the Thanksgiving period. Interestingly the bump this year wasn’t as large as the one last year; however that should not be interpreted to mean that enthusiasm for shopping apps is waning. On the contrary, between 2012 and 2013, overall use of shopping apps in the week before Thanksgiving grew by about 70%, so the 2013 Thanksgiving spike comes on top of a higher baseline usage level.

Media and Gaming Are Even More Popular On Thanksgiving 

App categories beyond shopping that saw spikes in app usage during Thanksgiving week are fairly predictable. Media spiked on Thanksgiving Day in particular – most likely in part because it includes photo and video apps used to record family gatherings. It was also somewhat higher on Wednesday and Friday compared to the previous week.

More time for relaxation probably explains why game apps, which are always popular, enjoyed even more use over the Thanksgiving period than the week before.

Even Workaholics And Dedicated Calorie Counters Take Thanksgiving Off

What types of apps experience less use on Thanksgiving and the days immediately before and after than during the previous week? Mainly apps associated with things people take a break from over the Thanksgiving holiday: business and education, health, and news.

Travel apps also experience a decline in use Thanksgiving Day and the day after. That may seem counter-intuitive since Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year; however it’s important to remember that people tend to be traveling to familiar places and often staying with relatives or friends so are less likely to need apps for booking hotels and rental cars or finding their way around an unfamiliar city.

Smartphones and Tablets Have Become Our Constant Companions

So shopping does contribute to the spike in app activity on Thanksgiving, but it’s only part of the explanation. This data shows the extent to which smartphones and tablets have become our constant companions, morphing their function to our whims and circumstances in ways even laptops never really did. They are truly our most personal computers. Sure, you can use them to shop without getting out of bed, let alone braving crowds at the mall, but your device can also entertain you with games, music, and movies. It can even tell you how far you need to walk to make up for that second helping of mashed potatoes – if you choose to look.

Data Inspired Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

  
  
  

Santa is making his list and checking it twice, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming soon it’s time to start making your lists too. As we’ve said before, apps and app usage reveal a lot about the interests and passions of device owners. With that in mind, we’ve compiled app-inspired gift ideas for the smartphone and tablet users on your holiday list.

To do that, we investigated app usage patterns for different Personas (psychographic segments) using a sample of 97,963 randomly selected iOS and Android devices. Our suggestions are based on the apps that members of each Persona use the most or to a greater extent than other smartphone and tablet users.

FLR131101 AppyHolidays resized 600

A Reminder On Giving Apps And Other Digital Content

Many apps are free, but if you want to give paid apps or other paid digital content note that you can give specific music or apps or set up a monthly allowance from Apple’s iTunes and App Store, whereas from Google Play you can only select a gift card. You can always add some suggestions for paid and free apps or other digital content you think a recipient might enjoy to make a gift card a little more personal or transform a holiday card into a gift.

Wishing You Joyful, Gadget-Lit, Holidays From Flurry

The best gifts tap into the recipient’s life and passions. Apps are a great way to gain insights about your loved one’s interests, so before you start shopping look at their phone or tablet for some ideas. We hope this has given you some inspiration for selecting holiday gifts, and wish you a joyful, gadget-lit, holiday season.

Links referenced in the infographic: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

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Holiday 2012 Delivers Historical Worldwide App Downloads

  
  
  

The most important week of the year for app makers is the final week of the year, between Christmas and New Year's Day. Starting with Christmas Day, the largest single device activation day of the year, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is marked by significantly elevated device activations and app downloads. This is the primary reason why companies jockey to rank well leading up to Christmas Day itself. This report reveals that the last week of 2012 was the largest week for both new device activations and app downloads in iOS and Android history.

For this report, Flurry leverages its data-set from over 260,000 apps running on the significant majority of iOS and Android devices. With its application penetration, Flurry can detect over 90% of all new devices activated each day. Additionally, with its analytics service in more than 25% of all applications downloaded on a given day from the App Store and Google Play, Flurry can reliably estimate total iOS and Android downloads. To benchmark against the market, Flurry regularly triangulates its device and download figures with data released publicly by Google and Apple.

In its most recent report, Flurry estimated that a record-breaking 17.4 million iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas Day, along with an equally record-breaking 328 million application downloads. Studying the data from December 25 – December 31, additional records were set, now for the highest number of device activations and app downloads of any week in history. Over the holiday week, Flurry estimates that over 50 million iOS and Android devices were activated, and 1.76 billion applications were downloaded. Let’s take a closer look at downloads.

Flurry appDownloads Christmas toNewYears2012

The columns in the chart compare the number of app downloads during Christmas through New Year’s Day (on the right) versus the average of the first two equivalent weeks of December (on the left). The seven days from December 25 – December 31 spanned from a Tuesday to a Monday. As such, we take the average of the first Tuesday-to-Monday weeks in December to establish a baseline. The average downloads over these weeks were surprisingly even. The final week of the year, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, grew by 65% over the early-December baseline, historically breaking through the largest single week record previously set during the same week of 2011.  While several weeks since late November delivered billion+ week download levels, the holiday week delivered a record-shattering 1.7 billion downloads.

Flurry appDownloads byCountry Christmas toNewYears2012 resized 600

This second chart shows the top twenty countries across which the record 1.76 billion downloads were distributed.  Starting from the left, the U.S. took the lion’s share with 604 million downloads, or 34.3%.  Referencing an earlier report, wherein Flurry sized the installed base of top countries, it’s not surprising that the U.S. continues to lead the rest of the world, especially since the fast-closing second place China does not celebrate Christmas (only 3% of China’s population is Christian). Just before the holidays, Flurry estimated that there were 181 million active iOS and Android devices in the U.S. market, compared to 167 million in China.

Following the trend that Western countries more widely celebrate Christmas – note the higher positions of countries like Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Italy and Mexico in the chart – these countries over-indexed against largely non-Christian countries of China, South Korea and Japan. For example, while Japan and South Korea have the 4th and 5th largest smart device installed bases of all countries, they ranked 14th and 10th, respectively, for downloads over the record week.  Christmas is not recognized as a national holiday in Japan, and in South Korea, roughly half the population self-identifies as non-religious.  Countries that significantly over-indexed during the holiday include Russia, Italy and Mexico which drove the top 7th, 8th and 9th most downloads despite the fact that their installed bases are ranked 13th, 14th and 15th, respectively.

Looking forward to 2013, Flurry expects the trend of one-billion-download weeks to become the norm, and that the industry will surpass the two-billion download week during Q4. Following a year where Google and Apple drove unprecedented adoption of mobile devices, Facebook declared itself a “mobile” company, and Amazon and Microsoft both made significant investments into mobile computing, we look forward to continued record-breaking adoption of smart devices and applications. Happy New Year from everyone at Flurry.

Christmas 2012 Shatters More Smart Device and App Download Records

  
  
  

More iOS and Android devices are activated on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year. This year was no exception. On this Christmas Day 2012, more iPhones, iPads, Galaxys, Kindle Fires, and more, were activated than on any other day in history. Moreover, as soon as we could tear the wrapping paper off our cool new devices, we started downloading a record volume of apps.  Let’s get into the numbers.

How Did Santa Fit All Those Devices Into His Sleigh?

The chart below shows the number of new iOS and Android devices detected worldwide by Flurry on Christmas Day. With more than 260,000 apps using Flurry Analytics, Flurry detects over 90% of all new iOS and Android devices activated each day. The company regularly triangulates its device coverage with publicly announced figures from Google and Apple.

NewDevices XmasDay 2012 resized 600

In order to appreciate the magnitude of new devices activated on Christmas Day, Flurry established a baseline using the average from the first 20 days of December. Over this period, daily activations averaged around 4.0 million per day, with variance of a few hundred thousand in either direction per day. On Christmas Day, activations soared to more than 17.4 million, a 332% increase over the December baseline. By comparison, Christmas Day 2011 held the previous single-day record, having reached 6.8 million device activations. Christmas 2012 is more than 2.5 times larger than Christmas 2011, which surpassed its own baseline by more than 300%.

With a record number of iOS and Android devices flooding the market, we next look at the surge in app downloads. For these figures, Flurry estimates its percentage penetration per platform to estimate total market app downloads. The company also benchmarks download volumes tracked in its system against publicly released app download milestones from Apple and Google.

More App Downloads Than Partridges in Pear Trees

AppDownloads XmasDay 2012 resized 600 

The above chart shows that, compared to the baseline, app downloads more than doubled on Christmas.  Specifically, over the December 1 – 20 baseline, download volumes increased by 112% on Christmas. Despite the ever-growing installed base of existing smart devices, the influx of new devices on Christmas Day still helped deliver a record download day, besting that of any previous day in history.  

It Was Christmas All D*mn Day

For our next chart, we look at the distribution of downloads per hour across Christmas Day 2012. The shape of this curve looks like a table top, with downloads jumping early in the day to around 20 million per hour, when most of us were still in our pajamas, and remaining at this level for most of the day, even after the egg nog was gone. For perspective, we compare this to the average distribution of downloads per hour clocked between December 1 – 20.

AppDownloads perHour Xmas2012 resized 600

More of Us Asked Santa for Tablets This Year

For our final chart, we drilled down into the split between smartphones versus tablets.  While smartphone activations typically outpace that of tablets by 4:1, on Christmas Day 2012, more tablets were activated than smartphones. The big winners were Apple iPads, Apple iPad Minis and Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7” tablets. In particular, Amazon had a very strong performance in the tablet category, growing by several thousand percent over its baseline of tablet activations over the earlier part of December.

Tablets vs Smartphones Xmas2012 resized 600

Over the next week, up through New Year’s Day, app download rates will remain significantly elevated.  Flurry anticipates downloads to surpass more than 1.5 billion, and have a shot at breaking through the 2-billion download barrier for the first time ever. We look forward to accelerated growth in 2013, and continued success for developers.

Holiday 2011: Breaking the One Billion App Download Barrier

  
  
  

The last week of the year, from December 25 through December 31, sees more iOS and Android device activations compared to any other week of the year.   Starting with Christmas Day, the largest single device activation day of the year, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is filled with significantly elevated device activations and app downloads.  For application makers, this holiday “power week” is far more important than the run-up to Christmas itself.  This report reveals that the last week of 2011 was the largest week for device activations and app downloads in iOS and Android history. 

For this report, Flurry leverages its data-set from over 140,000 apps running on the significant majority of iOS and Android devices.  With its application penetration, Flurry can detect over 90% of all new devices activated each day.  Additionally, with its analytics service in more than 20% of all applications downloaded on a given day from the App Store and Android Market, Flurry can reliably estimate total iOS and Android downloads.  To benchmark against the market, Flurry regularly triangulates its device and download figures with data released publicly by Google and Apple.

In its most recent report, Flurry estimated that a record-breaking 6.8 million iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas Day, along with an equally record-breaking 242 million application downloads.   Studying the data from December 25 – December 31, additional records were set, now for the highest number of device activations and app downloads of any week in history.  Over the holiday “power week,” Flurry estimates that over 20 million iOS and Android devices were activated, and 1.2 billion applications were downloaded.   Let’s drill down further into the downloads.    

Flurry, iOS & Android Holiday Week Download Growth

The columns in the chart compare the number of app downloads during Christmas through New Year’s Day (on the right) versus the average of the first two equivalent weeks of December (on the left).  The seven days from December 25 – December 31 spanned from a Sunday to a Saturday.   As such, we take the average of the first two full Sunday-to-Saturday weeks in December to establish a baseline.   The average downloads over these weeks are surprisingly even.  For background, the third full Sunday-to-Saturday week, not shown in the chart, December 18 – 24, is elevated slightly due primarily to December 24 downloads.  Up until the final week of the year, this penultimate week set the download record with 857 million downloads.   The final week of the year, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, grew by 60% over the early-December baseline, historically punching through the billion download barrier for the first time ever to deliver 1.2 billion downloads.

Flurry, iOS & Android Holiday Downloads by Country

This second chart shows the top twenty countries across which the record 1.2 billion downloads were distributed.  Starting from the left, the U.S. took the lion’s share with 509 million downloads, or 42.3%.  Referencing an earlier report, wherein Flurry sized the current installed base and market upside for each country, it’s not surprising that the U.S. continues to lead the rest of the world by such a large margin.  We estimate that just prior to the holidays, there were 109 million active iOS and Android devices in the U.S. market.  Compared to the worldwide total active installed base of 246 million, this was 41%.  China, the world’s second largest app market, which has roughly one-third of the U.S. installed base saw only one-fifth of the relative downloads.  It’s important to note that the celebration of Christmas as a holiday impacted download performance.  While the United States widely celebrates Christmas,  China is largely non-religious, with over 60% of the population considering themselves agnostic or atheist.  In China, Christians make up just 3 – 4% of the population.

Following the trend that Western countries more widely celebrate Christmas – note the higher positions of countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Spain and Mexico in the chart – these countries over-indexed against largely non-Christian countries of China, South Korea and Japan.    For example, South Korea and Japan have the 4th and 5th largest smart device installed bases of all countries, yet they ranked 7th and 10th, respectively, for downloads over the record week.  Christmas is not recognized as a national holiday in Japan, and in South Korea, roughly half the population self-identifies as non-religious.  As a point of interest, Canada appears to have over-indexed the most, using its 8th largest installed base to drive the 4th most downloads over the holiday period. 

Looking forward to 2012, Flurry expects breaking the one-billion-download-barrier per week will become more common-place.   While iOS and Android growth continues to amaze, the market is still by all measures relatively nascent.  We look forward to continuing to chart the unprecedented adoption of mobile computing devices, usage of applications and the way in which this technology is changing consumer behavior worldwide.  Happy New Year from everyone at Flurry.

App Developers Bet on iOS over Android this Holiday Season

  
  
  

At the recent Le Web conference in France, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt declared that “Android is ahead of the iPhone now.”  According to Schmidt, Android’s success is due to “unit volume, Ice Cream Sandwich,” because “the price is lower” and because “there are more vendors.”

Android Momentum

Google announced last week that worldwide Android Market app downloads now exceed one billion per month.  Compared to iOS, which surpassed 18 billion total downloads in October, Google revealed that the Android Market recently surpassed 10 billion total downloads.  This comes on the heels of comScore’s latest MobiLens report, showing that, for the three months ending in October, Android devices now account for 46.3% of U.S. smartphone subscribers versus 28.1% for Apple.  By these accounts, Google Android has momentum.  Mr. Schmidt further predicted at Le Web that, within six months time, Android would become the first platform for which developers build.

At Flurry, we track developer support across the platforms that compete for their commitment. When companies create new projects in Flurry Analytics, they download platform-specific SDKs for their apps. Since resources are limited, choices developers make to support a specific platform signal confidence, as they invest their R&D budget where they expect the greatest return.  Further, because developers set up analytics several weeks before shipping their final apps, Flurry has a glimpse into the bets developers are making ahead of the market.

In total, over 55,000 companies use Flurry Analytics across more than 135,000 applications. For this report, we study new project starts for 2011, during which developers set up analytics for approximately 50,000 apps.

Flurry New Project Starts, iOS vs Android, 2011

The chart shows the number of applications integrated with Flurry Analytics during 2011, by quarter, starting with Q1 on the left, and finishing with Q4 on the right.  The percent of new projects created for iOS is represented in grey.  Google Android’s share of new projects is shown in green.  Note that we estimated the remainder of December based on the first third of the month’s data already collected.  We further estimate that Flurry Analytics powers approximately 25% of all apps downloaded from the App Store and Android Market combined.

Over the year, developer support for Android has declined from more than one-third of all new projects, at the beginning of the year, down to roughly one-quarter by the end.  While the market nearly doubled for both platforms, we believe key events changed the proportion of support between these two platforms.  Of particular note, Apple expanded distribution for iOS devices beyond its long-standing exclusive with AT&T to include Verizon in February and Sprint in October.  Further, the highly successful launches of iPad 2 in February and iPhone 4S in October resulted in increased developer support for Apple.  By contrast, Android does not enjoy a truly recognizable flagship device among its army of OEMs supporting the platform.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

In particular, the market expanded aggressively in Q3 in anticipation of iPhone 4S support and the upcoming holiday season.  Flurry saw a similar boom in developer activity, ramping up to the holidays, in both 2009 and 2010.  And while allegiance to iOS has been more tilted toward Apple in previous years, new project starts for iOS still outnumber those for Android approximately three-to-one.

Android Momentum Revisited

Now let’s return to Google’s position that “Android is now ahead of iPhone.”  In terms of the number of devices activated per day by consumers, this is indeed the case.  In November, Google released that 200 million total Android devices have been activated with 550 thousand now activated daily.  In October, Apple announced that over 250 million iOS devices had been activated, and Flurry estimates that more than 450 thousand are activated daily.  With converging installed base numbers, and Android now edging out iOS for daily activations, the key question remains: Why are developers still supporting iOS three times more than Android?

Show Me the Money

Anecdotally, developers consistently tell us that they make more money on iOS, about three to four times as much.  To be sure, we pulled a sample of in-app purchase data from a set of top apps with versions on both iOS and Android, comprising of several million daily active users (DAUs). Running the numbers, we find that, on average, for every $1.00 generated on iOS, the same app will generate $0.24 on Android.

 

Same App Revenue Comparison, iOS vs Android

Android ecosystem challenges have been widely publicized, from OS fragmentation to concerns about the impact of not curating the Android Market.  However, the largest single factor that appears to impact developer support for the platform is the consumer’s ability to pay.  This comes down to Google Checkout penetration.  Upon setting up an iOS device, a consumer must associate either a credit or gift card to her iTunes account.  In theory, this means that 100% of all iOS device users are payment enabled.  This has not been the case for Android, resulting in lower revenue generation possibilities on the platform.  With the recent integration of Google Wallet and Google Checkout, as well as their current $0.10 Android app sale to spur new account sign-ups, Google appears to be taking steps to correct this.

While exact Google Checkout penetration is unknown, the respective revenue generated by each platform for same apps, provides the morale of the story: Despite installed base numbers and daily activations, the almighty dollar still drives business decision making among application developers.  And with the critical holiday season upon us, developers are betting on iOS for Christmas 2011.

Flurry Holiday 2009 Report: App Store, iPod Touch Shatter Records

  
  
  

Flurry evaluated download growth driven by Christmas across the leading Apple and Android devices, as well as their respective app stores, pulling a sample that represents approximately 10% of all download volume in the App Store and Android Market.

iPod Touch Downloads Explode on Christmas Day, Surpassing iPhone for the First Time

Flurry revealed the significance of iPod Touch to Apple's future plans in its November Pulse report. Out of the estimated 58 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices in the market at the time, Flurry estimated roughly 40% of those, or 24 million, were iPod Touch devices. It appears that an influx of new iPod Touch devices has flooded the market over Christmas, and that users of the handset, primarily pre-teen and teen audiences, are voracious downloaders. Here are some stats:

  • App downloads on iPod Touch soared past iPhone for the first time, eclipsing iPhone downloads by 172%.
  • iPod Touch 3G downloads increased by more than 900% on Christmas Day, compared to the average of all previous Fridays in December.
  • Total iPod Touch downloads (all generations) jumped by over 1000% on Christmas Day, indicating that in addition to new iPod Touch 3Gs coming into the market, iTunes gift card giving may have driven downloads to older generation iPod Touch devices.

The chart below sets iPhone download volume at "1" for iPhone on Christmas day to allow relative comparisons. All other dates for iPhone and iPod Touch are normalized against this figure. Compared to iPhone app download volumes on Christmas, the iPod Touch exceeded iPhone app downloads by 172%. iPod Touch download volumes increased by nearly 1,000% on Christmas day (which fell on a Friday) compared to the average of all previous Fridays in December. On December 26, iPod Touch download volumes continued to exceed that of iPhone by 104%.

 Christmas 2009 iPhone vs. iPod Touch App Store Downloads

December Shatters App Store Download Records

A month ago, November had set previous download volume records, growing by 15% over October. Toward the end of November, Flurry forecasted that December download volumes in the App Store would exceed November by more than 20%. With the figures in, Flurry underestimated growth by more than half.

  • App Store download growth increased by more than 50% in December* over November.
  • Android Market Growth increased by over 20% in December* over November.
*Flurry used December actual tracked downloads through 12/26, and completed the month by using an average daily download figure to estimate 12/27 - 12/31.

 

iPhone App Store vs. Android Market Downloads


Droid Leads Android Downloads for Christmas, but Android Market Trailing App Store

Android devices also showed growth during the Holiday season, led by the Motorola Droid.

  • Droid application downloads increased by 93% over previous Fridays in December.
  • Droid accounted for 48% of download volume across the leading Android handsets (Droid, myTouch 3G, G1 and HTC Hero).
  • App Store download volume is more than 13 times greater than Android Market.
Droid Leads Android Downloads on ChristmasAndroid App Download Share

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Flurry is the leading mobile measurement and advertising platform that is optimizing mobile experiences for people everywhere. Flurry's industry-leading Analytics software sees activity in over 400,000 apps on more than 1.3 billion mobile devices worldwide, giving Flurry the deepest understanding of mobile consumer behavior. Flurry turns this insight into accelerated revenue and growth opportunities for app developers, and more effective mobile advertising solutions for brands and marketers. The company is venture backed and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, London, Chicago and Mumbai. 

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