Historically, more iOS and Android apps are downloaded on Christmas than on any other day of the year. This is due to a massive influx of smartphones and tablets given as gifts. As fast as loved-ones can unwrap their shiny, new Galaxy IIs, iPhones, iPads, Kindle Fires, et cetera, they start loading them up with new apps.
With record-breaking mobile growth for both Apple and Google this year, Flurry has been anticipating an equally record-breaking Christmas. In 2011, Apple’s App Store is on pace to exceed 10 billion downloads, which will double the cumulative number of downloads earned across 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Android Market also set records, more than tripling its life-to-date downloads of 3 billion, reached in May 2011, to now over 10 billion cumulative downloads reached this December.
Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus delivered that many new iOS and Android devices
The chart below shows the number of new iOS and Android devices detected worldwide by Flurry on Christmas Day. With more than 140,000 apps using Flurry Analytics, Flurry detects roughly 100% 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.
Putting into perspective the sheer size 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 had little variance, ranging between 1.3 to 1.8 million, with an average of 1.5 million. On Christmas Day, activations jumped to more than 6.8 million, a 353% increase over the baseline. Compared to Christmas Day 2010, the previous single-day record, with 2.8 million device activations, Christmas 2011 grew by more than 140%.
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.
Every time an app is downloaded, a developer gets his wings
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 125% on Christmas. Note that, relative to the percentage increase in device activations, we expect the percentage increase in downloads to be lower. This is because of the sizable device installed base in the market onto which apps are constantly downloaded. This keeps the baseline higher vis a vis the Christmas peak. However, it’s also worth noting that nearly a quarter of a billion downloads occurred on Christmas Day 2011, which is more than double any other day in the history of iOS and Android devices, except December 24, which delivered roughly 150 million downloads.
As observed in 2010, Flurry expects elevated download levels from Christmas through New Year’s Day. Over this period, we anticipate approximately 1 billion total downloads.
Just like 24 hours of A Christmas Story
For our final chart, we tripled-dog dared ourselves to show how voraciously consumers download apps on Christmas. The chart below compares how many downloads occurred, per hour, over the course of Christmas Day, compared to the Dec 1 – 20 baseline.
The blue line, which creates an average “day” using December 1 – 20, displays the number of downloads over a 24 hour period, per hour. The sum of all hours on the blue line equals 108 million. Starting on the left, at 5 AM, there were 720,000 downloads. Over the baseline “day,” the rate of downloads per hour increased, with its peak at 9 PM of over 8 million downloads. The grey area represents the “prime-time” slot of 7 pm – 10 pm. All time zones are normalized, meaning that in our calculations, 7 AM in London is lined up with 7 AM in San Francisco, which is when it appears most people start unwrapping gifts under the tree.
Now, comparing the green line – Christmas Day – to the blue baseline, we notice Christmas downloads dominate each hour of the day. From 8 AM to Midnight, there are over twice as many downloads per hour. And already by 9 AM, hourly downloads on Christmas exceeded 10 million. At its zenith, from 7 PM to 9 PM, hourly downloads exceeded 15 million. Between 11 AM to 11 PM, more than 175 million apps were downloaded. By itself, this half day delivers over 70% more downloads than the entire baseline day.
In our most recent report, Flurry outlined the remaining, massive growth potential in both developed and emerging economies for smart device adoption. With this record-breaking year coming to a close, we eagerly look forward to 2012, with all signs pointing toward accelerating growth. Here’s to a Happy New Year for app developers.
In 2007, Apple and Google started a mobile computing revolution. Over the last four years, adoption of this new class of smartphone has been unprecedented. With powerful devices, connected to broadband networks and rich digital stores, an app economy was quickly built on top of it.
Beginning last year, Flurry observed that consumers using apps began expanding beyond early-adopting U.S. and Western European markets, starting to include more emerging economies. In a previous post, we shared details about this shift, highlighting the fastest growing international markets, with emphasis on China’s extraordinary growth.
As 2011 comes to a close, and we look forward to 2012, we size today’s installed base of iOS and Android smart devices (smartphones and tablets) as well as identify markets where the most future upside exists. We start by looking at how many active iOS and Android devices run applications by country.
Using data collected from Flurry’s data-set of more than 140,000 apps running on smart devices worldwide, we get a snapshot of how many iOS and Android devices ran apps over the last 30 days. Note that we gross up our figures to reflect differences in penetration per platform to provide market-level estimates. Among the top 20 countries, the U.S. still makes up the largest chunk of the world’s active installed base, with 109 million out of 264 million, or 41%.
Of note, China and South Korea now hold two of the top five positions, boasting addressable audiences greater than that of more developed countries such as Japan, France and Germany. Also worth noting is that our count of 264 million active units in the market is about half of what Apple and Google publicly state have been activated. The difference is primarily due to old device replacement. Flurry is counting recently used devices versus life-to-date device activations.
With smart device adoption skyrocketing worldwide, we next look at which markets hold the most future promise. With greatly varying disposable income per country, and recognizing that children do not purchase devices, Flurry used available data from several sources to adjust its data for an apples-to-apples comparison. First we used the “adult” population counts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which IMF defines as 15 to 64 years of age. Next, we adjusted our numbers based on the size of the middle class in each country, primarily using a study by Miller-McCune. We finally estimated the size of the upper class per country, who by extension can also afford a smart device. After making adjustments, we are left with adult consumers who have the financial means to afford a smartphone device per country. Doing so, populous countries like India, China and Brazil, which also suffer from income disparity, are not over-estimated in our addressable market calculations.
Starting from the left, China has 122 million consumers who do not yet use an iPhone or Android device, but could afford one. In short, this chart represents untapped potential. Emerging economies – China, India and Brazil – make up three of the top five market opportunities. Over the next several years, as these countries continue to modernize, they will significantly expand the worldwide addressable audience for smartphones.
Bringing the data together, we next look at market maturity, which is the measure of how penetrated smartphone devices are among a country’s addressable audience. To illustrate which markets are most mature, we chart the top 10 countries ranked by penetration.
The vertical axis measures our total addressable audience (TAM), which we define as adults, 15 – 64, who are at least middle-class. The TAM per country is represented by the larger, light blue circles. The U.S., with the largest light blue circle, has the largest TAM at 200 million. The horizontal axis shows percent penetration, which is the active user (iOS or Android device that used an app over the last 30 days) divided by the TAM. For example, Sweden is the most mature country with 3.2 million of 5 million (66%) addressable consumers already using iOS and Android devices. France, which ranks 10th in maturity, has 9.6 million of 34 million (28%) consumers using iOS and Android devices. So, from left to right, penetration increases. And from bottom to top, TAM increases. The U.S. leads the world in installed base because its large, addressable audience has been well penetrated, 91 million of 200 million (55%).
Completing our study, we look at the world’s largest addressable markets, regardless of penetration.
Because this chart measures future potential, TAMs are much larger relative to active user bases. The result, visually, is a lot more “light blue.” Many of the world’s largest countries have largely un-penetrated markets, primarily due to standards of living (emerging markets) or increased competition for consumers’ disposable income (developed markets). In either case, the TAM is there, but the adoption hasn’t yet occurred. So, many of these markets are future bets with the time of maturity somewhat variable and unknown. In this chart, the U.S. has both the largest current installed base and market upside. Again, this is because of its unique, well-penetrated and large, affluent population. Next China, given its very large population (1.3 billion), along with a growing middle class who has already begun adopting smart devices, has the world’s second largest market potential. In comparison, even though India has the world’s second largest population (1.2 billion), its TAM is much smaller than China’s because of India’s very low standard of living. The result is that, even though its total population is not far behind China’s, its total addressable market is. Further, the adoption of smartphones and tablets among its TAM has been small. Finally, Japan, the world’s fourth largest market, has a lot of upside given light penetration of iOS and Anroid devices against its large, addressable market.
iOS and Android sales boomed in 2011, with international smartphone and tablet adoption accelerating. As we look forward to 2012 and beyond, we expect the trend of international expansion to continue. With the world’s estimated middle class now totaling 1.8 billion, there remains a lot of unconquered territory for Apple and Google, who currently lead the charge in driving smart device adoption. This is equally good news for developers, who build apps for these platforms, and directly benefit from their installed base growth.
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.”
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.
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.
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.