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Summary:

German mobile analytics firm Adeven says that nearly two-thirds of software in iOS App Store are ‘zombies’ — thanks to a new tool that has counted 400,000 apps which get no downloads, are invisible to users and have no ranking.

Apptrace beta

Zombies may provide a perennial source of material for mobile games, but no developer actually wants their app to be the walking dead. Nonetheless, according to new mobile analytics and ad verification firm Adeven, that’s what almost two-thirds of the iOS App Store constitutes.

The Berlin company’s Apptrace tool launches on Tuesday and as a result it’s showing off several stats as a way of strutting its stuff. The most interesting one is the revelation that around 400,000 App Store apps get no downloads, are invisible to users and have no ranking.

“The reality is there are only a couple of thousand apps that really make some kind of downloads,” Christian Henschel, Adeven CEO, told me. “This is based on Apple’s closed system — it’s tough to discover those kinds of apps. You don’t have proper search, so the only way to discover new apps is through the top listing.”

“If you’re not on those lists, it’s not sure that you’re being discovered by anyone else. The top 25 tend to be the same companies who spend millions of dollars to get to the top of those lists. If you’re an independent, small app publisher, then it’s really tough to be discovered.”

Apptrace finds itself in a busy market, with the likes of Keen.io, Count.ly and (to an extent) Flurry all trying to court developers with the sharpest insights.

But Apptrace takes a different angle. For a start, it’s a free resource that is initially providing something closer to AppData’s outside-view app rankings, only through a prettier interface and with a deeper segment view. Android analytics will come in the fourth quarter, but for now Apptrace collates iOS data from the 155 countries where the App Store is present.

And with a seven-figure Series A round from Target Partners in the bank since April, Adeven already has some key enhancements ready for the rest of this year. The big one will be the addition of in-app analytics: something that will take Apptrace squarely up against Keen.io et al, but Henschel says the combination of the internal and external perspective will be unique.

“We’re not only measuring success within the app, but also within the ecosystem,” he said. “We will also soon be launching a feature where you can compare apps against each other, which is something that’s not available at the moment.”

Apptrace also has a feature lined up for developers with an ad-funded model: at the moment, they need to integrate multiple SDKs into their apps to handle all the different ad brokers such as AdMob and InMobi, but Apptrace will soon come out with a unified SDK that can manage the analytics for all these disparate networks.

And as for making money out of all this?

“The main reason we founded Adeven is to bring transparency into this mobile ecosystem,” Henschel said. “We believe if we provide the transparency then a lot more app dollars will fly into this ecosystem and we will find ways to participate in these revenues. But first, we’re really focusing on getting app developers using our service.”

Which is where those attention-grabbing, suspicion-confirming stats come in. Did you know that the App Store has 1,899 flashlight apps? Madness.

  1. Interested extrapolated data indeed! I agree apple needs to improve “discovery” on the App Store, anyway, I would love to see the same research made on the Android Market. If this is a general disease we might need to introduce a big change into the “Store” metaphor.

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    1. They say they’re going to start doing Android later this year. I’m also looking forward to the results there.

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  2. Terrible headline, which App Store?

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    1. The only one which holds the name App Store…

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    2. The AppStore!

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  3. This article starts with a catchy headline but then moves on being clear advertising for this company.

    I’d love to get a bit more insight into their methodology, since they can’t really know many downloads an app had, apart from indirectly from the top 200 (which cuts off a lot of the smaller ones)

    Not sure what they mean by “invisible to users” either.

    They should only make statements about what they actually know:

    1) how apps ranked in the top 25-100-200 charts around the world
    2) how many ratings it has and the average score

    I can’t see any proof for any further claims.

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  4. I hope to see this app comparison feature for Android and Windows 8 too.

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  5. It’s great that you’re introducing us to Apptrace and compare it to App Data (as well as other analytics firms), but why not mention AppAnnie, which is what everyone currently uses for App Store analytics? It seems like an obvious omission in this article.

    I have no affiliation with App Annie.

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    1. You’re absolutely right. I actually had App Annie in my notes for this article but unwittingly blundered past it.

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  6. Valid macro argument (lots of zombie software), mucked up by clear bias.

    This is based on Apple’s closed system? What data supports that conclusion. The greater success of apps in other more ‘open’ app stores?

    More probably, app store economics are stilted towards few big hits, and a longer tail pool of utility & productivity perennials that get updated, cared and fed for, marketed beyond the app store, etc.

    With 650K, 90%+ will ultimately fail, just as 90% of businesses in the real world fail, right?

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  7. Tsahi Levent-Levi Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    There are different types of applications that die on the app stores.
    I’ve done a small research of my own specifically on carrier apps and found out a lot of dead apps with various reasons: http://bloggeek.me/apps-graveyard/
    If you ask me, it would be nice if we received better reports as to what app stores contain: 650K apps isn’t impressive. Having 50K apps that people use daily is.

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  8. This is nonsense. I make my living from Apps that sell quite well, but are not on any of the top downloads lists. They have sales. And the idea that they are not discoverable is silly. They are discoverable because Apple cross sells them to people on the pages of other apps and on itunes reciepts, etc.

    This article proves one thing– that Gigaom will cover people who are absolutely incompetant and just making stuff up to get some awareness.

    Really quite shameful, actually.

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  9. Infested? Zombie software?

    Emotive and misleading or what?

    Makes it sound like iOS has malware (untrue) when of course it is Android that suffered 5,580 different malware apps and malicious exploits last month alone and 78% of the 13 million phones infected so far this year were Android phones.

    You neglected to mention that despite a possible significant percentage of iOS apps not being downloaded, iOS developer revenue is still 600% higher than Android according to Distimo and 84% of mobile game revenue is generated by iOS users.

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  10. Christian Henschel, Adeven CEO: “…You don’t have proper search…”

    Are you blind or you just want to drive some trafic to your website? Don’t you see the search feature icon clearly placed on the bottom of the AppStore ?

    This is one of my favorite way of looking for Apps. I never use TOP25 personnaly.

    This way of promoting false information using flashy titles with “Zombie” and infested is appaling.

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    1. I searched the app store for a wildflower id appfor 2 days with no luck about 2 years ago. I found it when a friend who had the app told me the name. It was listed as a travel app.

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    2. still the appstore-search will only display what is already ranked. download numbers matter. you either know the exact title of an app or you will most likely only find what apple thinks is importent. the majority of apps will be skipped.

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  11. I wrote a blog post months ago about the terrible user experience of the App store. Major observations still apply.

    http://uxless.com/app-store-uxlessness-was-apple-sleeping-when

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  12. Maybe now we wont have to listen to iFans going on and on about how many apps are in the appstore. . . as it doesn’t matter how many, only how many GOOD apps are available, and that’s about the same on all platforms.

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  13. Great way to start a company: aim flamboyant, negative claims toward at a company that is hair-trigger litigious, without providing solid evidence for those claims. See you in judicial hell, minus your money.

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  14. This is way too sensationalist, not worthwhile

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  15. There are already unified SDKs out there. See Fiksu.

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  16. Jyoti Awasthi Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Great article….!!!Nice to know about new things with helping concept. I am almost brand new to blogging and really like your post, it is really on target! Thanks for all of your time & work. Hope you always write this blog.
    Thank you,
    The given information is very effective.
    I’ll keep update with the same.
    website designing

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  17. @all: Our release brought up a lot attention and questions on how we got to this number and why we are making this assumption. With that in mind, we would like to provide you some insight into our methodology and reasoning on the app zombie discovery and the iOS ecosystem. You can find it here:
    http://www.apptrace.com/blog/2012-08-06/inside-zombie-land

    Christian

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  18. @all: Our release brought up a lot attention and questions on how we got to this number and why we are making this assumption. With that in mind, we would like to provide you some insight into our methodology and reasoning on the app zombie discovery and the iOS ecosystem.

    You can find it here:
http://www.apptrace.com/blog/2012-08-06/inside-zombie-land

    Christian, apptrace.com

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    1. Looks like Tim Cook (who knows those app numbers better than you, obviously) has another point of view: 90% (ninety) of the 700,000 apps available are downloaded each and every month…

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