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Data Shows Snapchat Has a History of Unpopular Updates Boosting New Users

According to Sensor Tower data, negative responses to Snapchat's app updates may actually have worked in the company's favor.

Snapchat Review Analysis  Hero Image

According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data, Snapchat has a history of increasing first-time U.S. installs after unpopular updates.

Last month, Sensor Tower noticed that first-time U.S. installs of Snapchat increased 55 percent week-over-week after launching a major redesign, despite an outpouring of negative reviews. We analyzed Snapchat's reviews and estimated downloads following previous updates to identify whether this pattern has occurred before.

Past Snapchat Updates Have Also Prompted Negative Reviews

Post-Update Snapchat Reviews in the United States

Sensor Tower App Intelligence data identified times where Snapchat had high volumes of negative reviews following updates, as shown in the chart above.

While this recent update had by far the highest number of negative reviews, Snapchat has had unpopular updates before. When Snapchat added Discover back in January 2015, 76 percent of the reviews in the following 10 days had negative ratings (one or two stars). Users also reported device issues after an update that added lenses and paid replays in September 2015. Snapchat received fewer total reviews, with a more balanced mix of favorable and unfavorable ratings, when it added ephemeral text chat and video calling in May 2014 and launched Chat 2.0 in March 2016.

Snapchat Installs Increase After Unpopular Updates

Post-Update Snapchat Downloads in the United States

As the chart above illustrates, Snapchat experienced the largest week-over-week percentage increase in installs after its recent redesign, when compared to past updates. However, this was not the first time that Snapchat saw an increase in installs after an unpopular update. In fact, first-time U.S. installs received 11 percent and 46 percent week-over-week bumps after the January and September 2015 updates, respectively. Snapchat did not see the same increases in installs after its more favorable updates.

The app could be benefiting from buzz created by polarizing updates. Interest in "Snapchat" and "Snapchat update" measured by Google Trends often increased after updates, with particularly large spikes after the September 2015 update and the recent redesign. It's worth noting that the response to the controversial updates is not necessarily net positive, as other Snapchat users could be deleting the app or switching to a competitor.

In any case, our findings suggest that you shouldn't assume that app store reviewer sentiment will impact growth of new Snapchat users like it would for other apps or mobile games.

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Jonathan Briskman

Written by: Jonathan Briskman, Senior Mobile Insights Analyst

Date: March 2018