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App Store Browsing Has Grown to Drive 15% of Downloads Since iOS 11's Launch

Sensor Tower research reveals the proportion of iOS app downloads that come from search, browse, app referrals, and web referrals.

App Store Download Sources Analysis

Apple has long maintained that 65 percent of downloads on the App Store come from search—but is this the same for games and apps, and what about the other 35 percent? New Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals that the means by which iOS users discover games and apps vary drastically, and that browsing the App Store has become more important to app discovery following the introduction of iOS 11 in fall 2017.

Search Is Much More Crucial for Non-Game Apps

Through our study of app downloads between May 2017 and April 2018, we discovered that, while 65 percent of overall App Store downloads for our sample came from search, this rate differed substantially between games and non-game apps. Only 56 percent of game downloads during our study period were from a search on the App Store, compared to 69 percent for non-game apps. This difference was offset by higher proportions of game downloads from Browse and App Referrals.

Chart showing the percentage of game and non-game downloads that come from all sources on the App Store worldwide

The fact that Browse makes up a significant portion of game downloads is not surprising, as our analysis last month showed games featured on the App Store can receive huge download boosts. Game developers also appear to be capitalizing on opportunities to advertise their own games within their titles or advertise in apps from other publishers, as 17 percent of game downloads came via referrals from other apps.

Browsing Is More Important to App Discovery Post-iOS 11

Apple launched its new iOS 11 App Store last September with the goal of engaging users through editorial content and improving the discovery of apps. While the release included an enhanced search, much of the focus of the new design was on improving the experience while browsing the App Store.


Our analysis reveals that Browse downloads have increased since the new App Store's launch. Approximately 10 percent of downloads came from Browse during the four months prior to the iOS 11 App Store release. Following the the launch, the proportion of downloads from Browse rose to more than 15 percent. Even though the boost in Browse downloads appears to have trailed off some after the initial excitement surrounding the new App Store, Browse downloads have remained above the average pre-iOS 11 level into early 2018.

While our analysis shows that the bulk of App Store downloads still come from search, installs from the other sources are still significant. It's also clear that, following the release of iOS 11, improving visibility on the App Store is more important than ever. We'll be providing additional findings from our analysis soon.

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Jonathan Briskman

Written by: Jonathan Briskman, Senior Mobile Insights Analyst

Date: May 2018