100 billion App downloads

By the end of May there will be 100 billion mobile apps installed on iOS and Android devices.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 5-31-9.45.21 PM


Not bad for a five year old medium.

With respect to attach rate, the total downloads/install base are currently 83 apps per iOS device sold and 53 apps per Android device activation. The history of this is shown below:

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 5-31-10.18.03 PM

The sheer weight of Android units will generate more downloads but on a per device basis the iOS devices do seem to consume more apps and the gap is not narrowing. What would be valuable would be the revenue per app on Play (the figure for iOS is about $0.23). That, as far as I know, remains unknown.

  • anonymous_coward12

    not entirely true
    since my wife bought our first iphone in early 2009 we have bought/downloaded approximately 3000 some apps. only a tiny percentage are still used. most of these haven’t been updated in years or superseded by newer apps from other developers.

    • JohnDoey

      Many people no longer listen to their copy of “Thriller” but that doesn’t revoke its multi-platinum status.

      The fact that iPhone apps have grown up along with the API’s so that you had the opportunity to spend your iPhone time running iMovie today instead of the same weather app from 4 years ago only says more good things about App Store.

      • he has a point though – there isn’t 100 billion apps installed, as indicated in the first sentence of this post, but 100 billion downloaded apps. that includes downloading an app, testing it for one minute, and then deleting it right away.

  • I question both android numbers. We have no numbers for the installed base of android devices, and we have no confirmation of the numbers of apps installed on them.

    The first number is simply not available. Googles “activations” are growing at such a rate that in a year or two they will have activated 10 devices for every person on the planet. Obviously “activations” are not sales.

    Google, Amazon, Samsung, and the other android manufacturers do not give sales numbers. There are lots of rumors and claims by third party PR agencies– such as Gartner and IDC, et. al. who are paid to generate PR for the manufacturers by claiming that Android is “winning”, just as they claimed Microsoft was winning during the years Apple was “beleaguered”. This strategy worked then because they convinced people that the mac market was an order of magnitude smaller than it was.

    When samsung was forced to reveal actual sales numbers during the lawsuit with Apple, they turned out to be quite pitiful…. about 1/10th what Gartner, IDC, etc. claimed at the time that the devices were on the market.

    Apple releases actual sales numbers in quarterly reports that are audited and delivered to the SEC. These are real numbers.

    The only numbers that exist for android are make believe.

    Same thing with apps. Show me where google reveals the number of apps sold for android and their methodology for doing so in SEC filings. (I’m assuming they don’t because google is generally dishonest, but I haven’t checked.) If you’ve got data like that it would be relevant, but if they aren’t risking shareholder lawsuits or going to jail on the numbers, then they are just PR.

    Remember when the Kindle was released and people were saying it was kicking Apple’s butt? The PR agency (working for Amazon) claimed that 4 million were sold. But of course Amazon never says in annual or quarterly reports– they don’t say because the numbers are terrible.

    This is the same play that they ran in the 1990 and it worked because if you convince people that one platform is winning they’ll start backing android.

    As a man with integrity, Horace, I challenge you to refuse to publish fabricated numbers and base analysis on it. If they won’t give us numbers they stand behind, then we must assume they are losing, and dramatically.

    The numbers we do have, which are somewhat reliable, are independently gathered numbers such as browsing traffic, which shows Android doing a tiny fraction of what iOS is doing.

    If Android is a “smartphone” platform, or a “tablet” platform, then we must presume that people on androids browse the web as much as people on iOS devices. From that ,we can extrapolate the installed base (Since we know the number of iOS devices sold, and the ratio of browser traffic.)

    • obarthelemy

      Sales estimates are indeed as iffy as sales predictions. Should we stop investigating the industry for lack of firm numbers though ?

      Regarding your last two paragraphs, the one site I know of that Is reasonably unskewed (; Consumer electronics site) put iOS at 12% and android at 10 of monthly unique visitors. x2 and x3 resp over a year. Not really a fraction. Too bad Facebook and old-media sites don’t publish numbers…

      Also, assuming smartphone use is the same regardless of specs/price is even more senseless than trusting PR numbers. Games / email /pics / IM (incl Skype and Hangouts) / reading / music / GPS and a bit of social web is a valid use case for a low-end smartphone.

      • Of course variations in capabilities affect usage, but that doesn’t make the numbers “more senseless” than PR numbers– they are actual numbers based on real data, unlike the PR numbers which are propaganda.

        We do have plenty of numbers from legit sources, such as Apple, and we can talk about those…. my beef is with taking numbers that have no legitimacy, and pretending like they do.

        IF I said there were only 30 million android devices in the market after 5 years of sale, would you take my numbers?

        The once Horace is using are no better.

      • JohnDoey

        What makes it senseless is that “smartphone” is a made-up word, the meaning of which has changed many times. You can’t have accurate data about “smartphones.” You can have accurate data about “iPhones” and you can estimate “BlackBerrys” and “Galaxys” (because numbers are not released) because those names have meanings. And counting any device running any version of Android as a “smartphone” is just pomp … braggadocio — it is meaningless.

      • peterson

        10% vs 12%? Maybe in France.
        Worldwide iOS share is almost 3 times bigger than all Android versions combined:

  • LRLee

    Hey, what happened to the donate button?

  • obarthelemy

    Are the numbers comparable ? Android includes Gmail, Youtube, Maps, Hangouts or Talk, usually Drive too… Are those 5 (for example) counted as downloads for iOS but not Android ?

    • bundled

      There are apps bundled with iOS as well so I don’t see your point.

      • On iOS those bundled apps are not counted as downloads, but on android they are …. as are updates, and then I think google has some servers that do nothing but download apps all day long. Not to mention the room with about 400,000 old NEXUS phones that didn’t sell that do nothing but activate and de-activate android all day long to drive the “activation” numbers.

      • obarthelemy

        Why would they do that since you say they make up their numbers anyway ? you sound like a lunatic.

      • Jessica Darko

        I think the word you’re looking for is heretic.

      • Will

        Sounds like you hate Google simply because it’s in competition with Apple. Grow up and just stop using it if it bothers you so much.

      • Jessica Darko

        No, I don’t like fraud. Sorry you think subborning fraud is “adult”

    • Kizedek

      You can add multiple GMail accounts to the built-in Apple mail program. GMail is a preconfigured option, and the server details, etc. are already in there.

      • obarthelemy

        My point is: I’m fairly sure most of Mobile users use several of these apps. On Android they come pre-installed, on iOS they don’t. That explains part of IOS’s higher DL number.

      • Kizedek

        My point is, you can take GMail off your list because “I’m fairly sure” most iOS users don’t use the Google “Gmail app”. They use the built-in Mail app (or a third-party app for Google related things). And, Google Maps was pre-installed until recently.

        There are other third party apps that do GMail better than Google’s apps, and of course these need to be downloaded (whether on iOS or Android). I use one called Mailbox, in addition to my Apple Mail app, because I like a different kind of sorting and workflow for certain mail accounts (essentially turning my Gmail account into a to-do list).

        I just did a simple search on the App Store, and Google’s own GMail app had lower ratings and about 7 reviews, vs. higher ratings and thousands of reviews for a number of GMail apps by other developers.

  • willo

    And 80 billion of those are updates.

  • Horace–

    Let me put this another way. The android sales numbers are made up. There’s a *massive* story if you can find a way to prove it, or determine the real sales numbers (I think web browsing is a good indicator).

    This kind of fraud relies on people not looking too closely. We already have proof: when samsung was forced to admit in court how pitiful it’s sales were.

    • What Samsung revealed in court were US sales numbers. I am not aware of any source of data on Samsung’s actual shipments globally.

  • Paul

    Do the iOS download numbers include downloads from the same iTunes account across multiple devices? I have 3 iOS devices all tied to my personal Apple ID. When I download an app on one the other two automatically download the new app too. Does the counter for that app get incremented three times or just once?

    • naga

      They are unique downloads, not re-downloads , not updates (according to Apple website)

      • r00fus

        Why don’t they just calling purchases – wouldn’t it sound more impressive if they said “50 billion apps sold”?

    • No. Once.

      • Paul

        That is counter intuitive. If I were change the Apple ID on one of those three devices and then download an existing app on the device (though a new one for that Apple ID) would that download be counted as new? At that point the device would have downloaded the app two different times. Should it even count at all? Thanks for making your analysis public!

      • Think of it as a counter of purchases.

      • Paul

        It sounds obvious when you put it that way! Much more straightforward.

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  • A Critic

    This data is amazing, but would have been more amazing if it were an interactive picture, and not just a plain png file. Anyways awesome job!

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  • Adilson

    Horace, i know that this is a old work. but do you still have the data?

    • The latest (June 2014) data is 75 billion downloads for iOS but no information on Android since July 2013 when they reported 50 billion downloads.