The iTunes App Store freeze — when app rankings stop moving for a period of time, traditionally right around Christmas — has long been a cause for both excitement and concern among app marketers. This year, we can confidently say that it’s not just less important than it used to be: It’s downright irrelevant.
For a few years, in 2009 and 2010, the App Store freeze was a glorious opportunity for app marketers. A well-timed advertising blitz could push an app to the top of the charts just before the freeze. As soon as the ranks stopped changing, marketers would cut their ad spend and enjoy a free stay at the top of the charts for days — and watch with glee as downloads piled up. Since the freeze coincided with Christmas, loads of people with new phones would be heading to the app store to load up on games and apps, so those spots at the top of the charts were even more valuable than usual.
Although Apple does not make historical information about operating system adoption available, mobile tracking firm Fiksu notes that iOS 6 was only installed on about 70 percent of devices the same number of days after its release, while iOS 5 was only able to make its way onto 65 percent of hardware.
These numbers are even more impressive once you realise that they represent percentages of an ever-growing number of overall hardware devices. Back in September, while announcing that it had sold nine million new iPhones, Apple indicated that some 200 million users – 30 percent of the total – had already updated their existing phones to iOS 7, which means that today’s 74 percent translates to over half a billion devices – and that’s based on an overall figure that doesn’t even consider the devices that Apple has sold in the last three months.
The latest data -- updated Friday -- shows a wide gap between iPad Air and iPad 4 adoption, according to Fiksu "Adoption Trackers."
Fiksu samples millions of so-called app events (launches, purchases, and registrations) every hour from applications that use its SDK (software development kit), then charts the percentage of active iOS tablets on each version at a set date after launch.
“The combination of the two – programmatic retargeting – is likely going to be the new favorite tool of many app marketers who are struggling with slowing growth rates,” said Chris Shuptrine, senior director of client development at Fiksu, Boston.
“We also may see an expansion of the definition of programmatic beyond today's SSPs and DSPs: We now have automated, programmatic buying on Facebook through their API,” he said. “Other premium publishers like Pandora or The Weather Channel could go the same route as could Twitter.”
Fiksu is also the only firm that offers all of the pieces needed for a mobile app marketing campaign in a single place, Adler said — including access to advertising inventory, real-time buying, tracking and access to social networking advertising.
Boston-based Fiksu, which offers technologies for marketing mobile apps, expects to add about 100 employees over the next year — and half of the new hires could be in Boston, founder and CEO Micah Adler said in an interview.
Apple's App Store will not reveal how its top charts' ranking system works, but a study from Boston app marketing agency Fiksu found that it is not purely driven by download volume and speed.
Somehow, ratings factor in. And critics think it is ripe for exploitation.
Fiksu tracks its Software Developers Kit (SDK) being used on individual iPads and iPhones so this can provide one datapoint on what percentage of any given model is being used.
Fiksu’s latest graphs show that apps that use its SDK (Software Development Kit) are using the Air 1.8 times as often 30 days after shipping than the iPad 4 and original mini combined (3.00% divided by adding together 0.95% and 0.73%). While this doesn’t directly translate to sales I believe it does show how well the Air is doing overall.
Apple has made a concerted effort to ensure its App Store is a pure meritocracy. But that hasn’t stopped fringe vendors from promising to help developers buy their way to the top of the rankings.
Several mobile insiders praised Apple for helping push some of those practices to the margins, particularly since Apple cracked down on rougue developers offering gamers free lives or game currency in exchange for downloading apps. "Apple did a really nice job cleaning that up," said Craig Palli, chief strategy officer at the app marketing firm Fiksu.
"What we see is the mobile app economy is very consistent with many consumer-facing economies, like retail," said Craig Palli, chief strategy officer of Fiksu, a mobile app marketing firm. "It has a profound spike during the holidays."
During the fourth calendar quarter, twice as many apps are downloaded than in a typical quarter, Palli said. And most of the action in the fourth quarter comes from downloads happening in December, he said.
Fiksu tracks its Software Developers Kit (SDK) being used on individual iPhones so this can provide one datapoint on what percentage of any given model is being used and how well sales are going.
Fiksu’s latest graph shows that the 5s was being used on 7.53% of all iPhones as of Monday, 66 days after it was launched, vs. the 5 which was on 6.16% of all iPhones at the same time post-launch a year ago. Starting on the 53rd day post-launch the 5s has increased its presence on the overall iPhone install base to a 20% plus faster rate (7.53% divided by 6.16%) than the 5.