Flurry: App downloads still spike at Christmas, but growth slows

It's become as predictable as turkey and mashed potatoes on Christmas Day: device activations spike, followed by a corresponding rise in app download volumes. According to the latest report from Flurry, however, developers may not want to count on the holiday season as a long-term engagement strategy.

Here are some key findings on the recently holiday app sales season, according to Flurry's latest report:

  • Overall app downloads increased by 11 percent on Christmas 2013 compared to Christmas 2012.
  • The overall rate of year-on-year growth and the year-on-year Christmas growth have slowed considerably in the past year (from 97 percent and 90 percent respectively between 2011 and 2012).
  • Christmas downloads were up by 91 percent compared to an average day in the first three weeks of December.
  • There was a 25 percent increase in app downloads on an average December day.

"The slowing growth rates and smaller Christmas Day app download spike signal market maturation. Many consumers in Western Europe and English-speaking countries--large mobile markets where Christmas is a big holiday--already have a smartphone and / or a tablet. Fewer people are coming online with mobile for the very first time," the report said. "Consumers who are on second, third or fourth devices have apps that they like and trust, and while they still download new apps, there isn't much more impetus to do so on Christmas than any other day when they have a little downtime."

It's not exactly a lump of coal in developers' stockings to see this kind of a dip. The fact is, as the number of apps continue to swell within existing app stores, the competition for discovery was never going to be overcome on a single day of the year.

Flurry points out that the "Christmas effect" continues to be felt in emerging or growing markets like China, but it's probably wise for developers to start thinking early about how they will appeal to consumers who have already become experienced app users. After all, there may be a difference in the level of engagement of a user who downloads an app to see what they can do with their smartphone and someone who downloads an app based on a more specific desire or need. That has to be better than the all-or-nothing expectations that the Christmas season brings to untold numbers of app launches today.

For more:
- to see the complete Flurry report, click here

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