When announcing the prowess of their respective app marketplaces, both Google and Apple like to discuss how many apps there are. They don’t discuss the actual makeup of their marketplaces, though. A recent study notes that up to 80% of apps in the App Store are “zombie” apps — and no, we don’t mean games.
The study, conducted by Adjust, references their own metrics to decide how many “zombie” apps are on the App Store. The idea is that if an app doesn’t show “in any position on one of the 39,171 App Store top lists on at least two out of three days over the evaluation period of one month”, it’s not a worthy app.
The idea behind that is that if an app isn’t popular, it’s not worth downloading in the eyes of consumers. To scale, the problem is getting worse. In June of 2013, the App Store was about 70% “zombie” apps. Though there are many more apps on the store now, the issue deals with percentages, not totals.
According to Adjust, about 20% of apps had appropriate visibility, which leads to their status as being alive. Dead apps, those which have been removed by Apple or pulled by Developers, also loom large.
When looking at the main offending categories for “dead” apps, it’s easy to cast a little doubt on these numbers. The top category for pulling or deleting is books, where Adjust finds 27% of them are dead. Entertainment apps are second, followed closely by utilities. Games has the highest number of dead apps (not surprising), but not the highest percentage.
This highlights a sticking point for Developers: app discovery. Adjust says “The corollary of the Zombie rate is that four fifths of apps cannot count on the App Store’s top lists to promote their discovery and bring them valuable organic users.”