Hundreds of thousands have gone without updates for at least 2 years
The applications share a high level of correlation to businesses. unless it is based on intellectual property that can do last, many of them don’t go on for a very long time. The climb is steep and many developers are not equipped to deal with all the challenges along the way, unless they get a good investment or are bought. While this isn’t the story for every app, there are a lot of them that will pop up in your App Store search results and may not have received updates for months or even years. A new report attempts to shed light on how many of these so-called “abandoned” apps are.
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Analysts at research house Pixalate say (via The Register and Arizona’s The Android Edge newsletter) they’ve found 1.5 million applications on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store that haven’t been updated for at least 2 years. and 314,000 apps have not been closed. For 5 years or more. On the other hand, 2 million apps got updated in the last year, of which 1.3 million were bumped in the last 6 months.
On the Android side, around 870,000 apps fall under the 2-year limit (58% market share), with most of the 465,000 in the 2-3 year segment. Of the apps that haven’t received an update for 4 or more years, iOS takes the big chunk at 290,000 (56%). AppBrain counts more than 2.65 million apps on active offer on the Play Store as of writing, meaning about one-third of them have been abandoned for at least 2 years.
There are very few non-maintenance evergreen apps to start with, though a good chunk of them enjoy a cult following. Some of them will be around in the future, however, as operating systems are gaining complexity to fight security threats and enhance user experiences. The Play Store is already under increasing pressure on app publishers to update frequently or risk being deplatformed. That’s not to say Google Play is the end-all, be-all Android app publishing—Amazon’s App Store is another striking example—but none has been able to serve such a large audience with lax update guidelines.
Indie developers who oversee small communities will find it harder than ever to maintain it. AppBrain indicates that four out of every five Android apps have 10,000 or fewer downloads. Yet 31% of apps with 10,000 or fewer downloads in both Android and iOS haven’t seen an update in at least 2 years, while 27% had at least one in the past 6 months.
It seems that independent mobile app development is rapidly losing its viability for a fair number of coders. Will they be able to chase and earn Google and Apple revenue full time? Or will they find themselves squeezed out of the picture by life circumstances or acquisitions?
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About the Author
Jules Wang (1356 articles published)
Jules joined the Android Police team in 2019. Before that, he was in Pocketnow. He loves public transportation, podcasts, and people in general. He also likes to take ideas from the big picture in technology about how people are drawn to how it’s used in every other industry.
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