One of the main reasons smartphones have replaced feature phones and became one of the most popular portable pieces of technology is mobile applications. With a rich app ecosystem supporting them, smartphones became a very popular platform for developers, and needless to say, the number of applications launched on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store in the past several years grew tremendously. However, according to new research based on data gathered by Sensor Tower, the number of app downloads in the US and worldwide is now declining even for the most popular applications, except for Snapchat and Uber, both of which have registered positive download figures year-on-year since May 2015.
It’s safe to say that when most mobile phone users switched to a smartphone for the first time, they may have had a lot more patience and curiosity to try out a multitude of applications published by small and large developers alike. This contributed to the “mobile app boom” that’s been going on for several years, but as smartphones are becoming increasingly popular, users seem to want and rely on a collection of applications proven to meet their demands, instead of spending time exploring new, unproven possibilities in their app ecosystem. Whatever the reasons might be, recent research based on data gathered from Sensor Tower shows that even the most popular applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook are downloaded in fewer numbers compared to last year. In the United States, 13 out of the 15 most popular applications have registered smaller download figures year-on-year since May 2015, with the only exceptions being Snapchat and Uber, both of which have enjoyed increased downloads. The story is not much different on the International market, where applications like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube are also declining. Once again, both Snapchat and Uber seem to be very successful internationally, which indicates that even though the app ecosystem might be saturated, good ideas can still make their way to the top.
In any case, it should be pointed out that, for extremely popular applications such as Facebook, a decline in the number of app downloads is to be expected at one point. Facebook already has 1.65 Billion users, and for obvious reasons, it’s not easy to find and get new people onboard with the social network. As such, the download figures represented in the graphs below don’t necessarily reflect how a publisher’s business truly performs. But they do show that a large part of smartphone users seem to have a lower interest in experimenting with new applications, or re-downloading older ones.