The top 1% of app store publishers drive 80% of new downloads


The current app store ecosystem doesn’t favor the indie developer. According to new data from Sensor Tower, the top 1% of publishers globally accounted for a whopping 80% of the total 29.6 billion app downloads in the third quarter of 2019. That means just 20%, or 6 billion, downloads are left for the rest of the publishers.

This bottom 99%, which equates to roughly 784,080 publishers, averaged approximately 7,650 downloads each during the quarter. To put that in context, that’s less than one-thousandth of a percent of the downloads Facebook generated in the quarter (682M).

The data should not be all that surprising, given that larger, social platforms like Facebook and YouTube already serve audiences of over a billion. But it is concerning how uneven the market for new apps remains, especially considering that the number of available apps continues to expand, which makes the competition even more difficult.

The report notes there were over 3.4 million apps available across the App Store and Google Play in 2018, up 65% from the 2.2 million apps available in 2014. But the number of apps that were able to achieve at least 1,000 installs has been declining over that same period — from 30% to 26%.

Focusing only on games, the top 1% of publishers — or 1,080 out of a total 108,000 publishers — saw 9.1 billion downloads out of the total 11.1 billion, or 82%. This averages out to more than 8.4 million installs each. The remaining 18% of downloads, or 2 billion, were shared among the remaining 106,920 publishers. That averages out to around 18,000 downloads each.

When apps were analyzed by revenue, the gap was wider. Just 1,526 publishers generated $20.5 billion out of the total $22 billion in revenue in the quarter. Meanwhile, the remaining $1.5 billion was split among 151,056 publishers, averaging out around $9,990 each.

In terms of games revenue alone, the 445 publishers that make up the top 1 percent generated $15.5 billion in revenue, or 95% of all revenue, with the remaining $800 million split between the 44,029 publishers in the bottom 99%. This averages out to around $18,100 each.

None of these are new trends, Sensor Tower also notes. There hasn’t been much fluctuation in the top 1% share of installs or revenue for years. That means the large majority of publishers will compete for a minority of new users and installs.

Image credits: Sensor Tower

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