UPDATE: App Store thawed once again

Update 2 - 12/25, 9:18 pm: As of around 8:45 pm EST Christmas Day, the App Store rankings are moving once again. Time to put away the turkey and get back to promoting your apps -- everyone who opened a new smartphone today will be loading it up with apps in the days and weeks to come.

Update 1 - 12/25, 5:44 am: the App Store Freeze went into effect at around midnight Christmas Day. Fiksu clients have been notified and their planned changes have been put into action -- here's hoping not too many app marketers have to take time away from presents to update their strategies.

Original post follows.

There's been much confusion about the so-called “App Store Freeze.” It’s important to note that there are two separate and distinct freezes, one announced by Apple and one speculated:

1. iTunes Connect Holiday Shutdown: Every year, Apple restricts access to iTunes Connect and puts delivery of any new apps or updates on hold for the winter holiday week. This year, Apple has indicated the shutdown will run from today, December 21st, to Friday, December 28th.

2. iTunes App Store Freeze: Last year, Apple also froze the front-end App Store display on December 25th, effectively pausing the rank of all apps for almost 48 hours. Similar freezes occurred in previous years.

So what’s the difference?  First, the iTunes Connect holiday shutdown simply means that Apple won’t accept new app submissions -- if a submission isn’t accepted by the 21st, it won’t be live before the 29th. You’ll also be unable to make any updates or pricing adjustments to existing apps during this time.

The potential App Store Freeze is more important from a marketing strategy point of view. If the App Store freezes, all app ranks will be fixed in place for the duration of the freeze. So if you’re planning a burst campaign, you’ll want to ensure that you drive your rank up as much as possible prior to the freeze. Of course, if the store doesn’t freeze, you’ll have to plan to spend more to maintain that position for an extra day or two. 

When will we know if the freeze is going to happen? Essentially, not until it actually goes into effect. Apple doesn’t give advance warning of the App Store freeze, so despite the rumors, no one outside of Apple knows if and when this will happen again.

We'll be monitoring the situation and helping current clients respond appropriately. The most important factor to keep in mind is that that there is no guarantee a freeze will even occur, or how it will work: last year, the freeze didn’t affect the XML feed which drives rank in 3rd party tracking tools (e.g. App Annie). So keep a level head and make sure you get all the facts before you make any reactionary decisions. Good luck, and happy holidays.

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