Hundreds of thousands have been without updates for at least 2 years
Applications share a high degree of correlation with businesses. Unless it is based on intellectual property that: can last, a lot of them do not take an awfully long time. The rise is steep and many developers are not equipped to face all the challenges that come their way unless they get decent investments or are bought out. While that’s not the story for every app out there, there are plenty that show up in your app store’s search results and haven’t received an update for months or even years. A new report tries to shed light on how many of these so-called “abandoned” apps exist.
Analysts at research firm Pixalate say (via The Register and Esper’s The Android Edge newsletter) that they have found 1.5 million applications in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store that have not been updated in at least 2 years with 314,000 apps that have not been updated. have been pushed for 5 years or more. On the other hand, 2 million apps have been updated in the past year, with 1.3 million in the last 6 months.
On the Android side, about 870,000 apps fall below the 2-year threshold (58% market share) with the majority in the 2-3 year segment with 465,000. Of apps that haven’t had any updates for 4 years or more, iOS accounts for the largest share at 290,000 (56%). AppBrain had more than 2.65 million active apps on the Play Store at the time of writing, meaning nearly a third of them have been abandoned for at least 2 years.
There are very few maintenance-free evergreen apps to begin with, though a good portion of them tend to have cult followings. However, there will be fewer of them in the future as operating systems become more complex to combat security risks and improve user experiences. The Play Store is already putting pressure on app publishers to commit to frequent updates or risk being deplatformed. That’s not to say that Google Play is the latest when it comes to publishing Android apps — Amazon’s app store is another lucrative example — but none can provide such a large audience with looser update guidelines.
Indie developers who support smaller communities will find it even harder to keep up than it already is. AppBrain indicates that about four in five Android apps have 10,000 or fewer downloads. Still, 31% of apps with 10,000 downloads or less on both Android and iOS have not seen an update in at least 2 years, versus 27% who had at least one in the past 6 months.
It seems to quite a few programmers that independent mobile app development is quickly losing its viability as an afterthought. Will they be able to chase and earn full-time Google and Apple revenue? Or are they pushed out of the picture by living circumstances or an acquisition?
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