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First Evidence of Apple Aggressively Removing Abandoned Apps from the App Store

| by Sergio De Simone Follow 21 Followers on Nov 21, 2016. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

In the second month after Apple announced an App Store improvement process aimed to remove non-working or outdated apps, its first effects are starting to show, App Store analytics firm Sensor Tower revealed.

According to Sensor Tower research, the number of apps removed from the App Store increased about 238 percent in October over the monthly 2016 average, with 47,300 apps removed in October vs. an average 14,000 from January to September 2016. Although Sensor Tower figures do not distinguish between apps removed by Apple and those removed by their publishers, “they can only be the result of Cupertino’s custodians dropping the axe on what they determined to be faulty abandonware”, the company maintains. Among the most impacted categories, Sensor Tower head of mobile insights Randy Nelson includes games, which account for approximately 28 percent of removals, followed by entertainment and books, with 8.99 and 8.96 percent of removals respectively.

In a previous research, Sensor Tower found that a large number of apps were not maintained:

51 percent of apps on the store haven’t been updated in a year or more, while approximately 16 percent of apps haven’t been updated in more than three years.

It is not clear yet how the existence of so many abandoned apps is affecting user experience, but these figures back up the idea that the App Store clean up process is only at its first step.

Before Apple’s announcement in September, Alex Austin, CEO of Branch, a company pushing the use of deep-linking to improve mobile app discovery, published an analysis revealing some worrying trends in the App Store and linking the stark growth of app released each year with an exponential decrease of the average number of ratings per app, historically a “good proxy for the number of downloads”. Austin’s analysis also showed a linearly decreasing app lifetime, which was down to 2–3 months on average in 2015 from more than one year in the years 2009–2012.

According to Apple’s specific guidelines, developers will receive a 30-day notice to submit an update to any app that is found to have an issue, such as not working as expected, not following current review guidelines, or being outdated. If the developer does not submit an update, the app is removed until an update is submitted.

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