We’ve Acquired data.aiLearn more



App Store Purge: 51% of Apps Still Haven't Been Updated in More Than a Year

Apple has promised to clean up abandoned apps, but our analysis shows it has yet to happen.

App Store Purge Hero Image

Update or get out. That's the ultimatum Apple delivered to app developers earlier this month, calling on them to keep their apps current (and functional) or risk being delisted from the App Store. According to our latest analysis, a week after the September 7 deadline for developers to adhere to new guidelines went into effect, 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.

In this report, we'll look at how that breaks down by number of apps and which categories are in the lead when it comes to abandoned apps.

More Than Half of Apps Are No Longer Being Updated

Using data from Sensor Tower's App Intelligence platform, we were able to look at the more than 2.1 million active apps on the App Store worldwide and determine how long ago each of them were last updated. Our analysis found that approximately 1.08 million of the apps on the App Store, or 51 percent of all apps, haven't received an update in a year or more.

Abandoned Apps Chart

Looking back further, we found that approximately 598,000 of the App Store's active apps—about 28 percent of the total—haven't been updated in two or more years. That number declined to approximately 333,000—about 16 percent of all apps—when we looked at how many hadn't been touched by their developers in three or more years.

Note: These figures refer to version updates of the apps themselves, and do not factor in updates to descriptions, icons, screenshots, or other metadata.

Of course, an app not receiving new functionality or bug fixes for a long period of time doesn't necessarily mean it has been abandoned by its developer outright. It's possible that their developers are still providing customer support, for example, and are functionally complete, stable apps—in which case we imagine Apple will make allowances after reviewing the situation and perhaps requesting updates to support the most recent iOS devices.

Games Lead Abandoned Apps

As you can see in the chart below, the Games category accounts for the largest single portion of apps that haven't been updated in a year or more, comprising approximately 19 percent. The remainder of the top five "oldest" categories among the potentially abandoned apps are Lifestyle (8.56 percent), Education (8.17 percent), Business (7.51 percent), and Entertainment (5.46 percent).

App Store Categories with the Most Abandoned Apps

This finding isn't incredibly unexpected given that Games is by far the largest category of apps on the store, and that more than 20,000 games were added to the store in May alone. That said, the category is no doubt a prime target for Apple's curators, as it also accounts for more downloads than any other. It's also not uncommon to find games that crash on startup on modern devices, something the platform owner is especially keen to weed out. We'll take another look at Apple's progress on this front soon.

Header image by Cristiano Betta

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Randy Nelson

Written by: Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights

Date: September 2016