iOS users download about 5 apps every month

Thanks to a reader for asking this question: “Wouldn’t it be more telling to look at the monthly rate of downloads / device at any given time?”

Yes it would.

Here’s what can be derived based on download rates and installed base of devices.

Please note that I am assuming that the number of devices put out of use is negligible. In defense of this, I would argue that the vast majority of iOS devices sold are still serviceable and are re-sold. However, the estimate should be rounded down.

The data shows that there’s been a slight trend upward in download rate/user but it’s been fairly steady.

The implications are interesting: if you know the number of iOS devices in use, you can determine the app economy turnover with reasonable accuracy. If you also know app ASP, you know sales, and even margin.

Conversely, if you know the app download rate you can derive the device installed base.

So in September I looked forward to an iOS user base of 500 million. It could be reached by 2013. Assuming each user downloads 5 apps per month that would mean 2.5 billion downloads per month.

That’s two years away.

  • raycote

    Best wishes to Steve and his family!

  • Looking at the past 24 hours the download rate seemed to be something like 37M. I guess that still fits the installed base growth.

    A really interesting analysis.

    • asymco

      The download rate in the web site is therefore higher than the rate I derived for the last three months: 37m vs. 32m. That is very likely due to the post-Christmas surge typically seen after new devices are put into use.

  • CndnRschr

    There is constant discovery of apps as well as improvement of existing apps. The barrier to entry is low (cheap discovery) and the demographic is wide. One of my graduate students has 3 screens on her iPhone 3GS in addition to the largely Apple-defined home screen (which people tend to keep close to as is). Each of those three screens is full of folders with at least 10 apps per folder. Clearly, some people love to populate their phone with apps while others are more selective. Makes for a vibrant and flexible market.

    • famousringo

      That describes me. Before folders, I actually ran out of screens for new apps. It's a little alarming when you have to do a search to find that new app you downloaded.

      For a buck or two, the price of curiosity is quite low, and the satisfaction of finding a very clever app is high. So much creativity is being unleashed and I can't think of a medium where participation is cheaper in terms of time and money.

  • chano

    And we are still at the foothills of this market.

  • MattF

    Based on my own behavior, I'd guess that there are two populations: new iPhone owners, who have a high but transient rate of app purchase, and old owners, who have a lower steady state rate of app purchase. I wonder if there's data that would discriminate among two or three parameter models of the sum of these populations.

  • Sergio

    It'll also be interesting to see how the Mac App Store does in the next few months, it's the first (or last, if this was all planned since 2001 as some argue) piece of technology in the road to desktop/mobile convergence. I wouldn't be surprised if the real bombshell in the Mac OS 10.7 introduction this summer is the ability to run on both Intel and ARM chips, along with a new line of macbooks (probably the airs, but maybe the basic line) running on a multi-core ARM.

    And why not? The technology is ready for it. If the rumoured specs of the 2nd gen iPad are true the device is going to be a very close match to a keyboard-less macbook air, proving that an ARM-based laptop is perfectly viable. And any app compiled for the Mac App Store could be cross-compiled for ARM, maybe the store itself will even do this to take the hassle away from developers.

    There is the perverse possibility that MS Office might end up running on ARM as a mac app before it runs on Windows 8…. now that would be ironic.

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  • I had a look at the _estimated_ download rate on It's around 10M/day. If Android installed base is something like 50M (I guess it might be a bit more) you arrive at a downloads / month / sold device ratio that's pretty close to the Apple number. Interesting to see if Android is able to keep this ratio with the lower end devices as well.

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