Mobile analytics and ad platform Flurry has released its annual report on the state of app downloads over Christmas for 2013, and as is usually the case, consumers clearly went crazy for apps this year. Unwrapping a new iPad will inevitably prompt a spike in software downloads, but Flurry is finding that spike is starting to diminish year to year.
App downloads broke records yet again for 2013, with an 11 percent improvement over total Christmas Day downloads in 2012. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to past year-over-year increases. Between 2011 and 2012, for instance, download growth on Christmas exploded by 90 percent, while it increased 97 percent during the entire month of December year-over-year. This year, as mentioned, growth was only 11 percent between 2013 and 2012 for the holiday itself, and 25 percent for the month of December.
Flurry interprets this slow down in growth as a sign that the smartphone and tablet markets in developed markets might be reaching a maturation point – they avoid calling it a ‘saturation’ point, but it’s undeniable that that’s a fear many market watchers have had regarding the potential growth ceiling on device sales from leading smartphone and tablet makers in markets where those devices have been selling and selling well for nearly a decade now.
Christmas Day downloads were up 91 percent vs. an average day earlier in the month, Flurry found, so there’s a sizeable bump on the day of gift-giving itself. Still, even that is down vs. previous years. In both 2012 and 2011 there was a more than twofold increase in the number of downloads of apps taking place on Christmas Day vs. other days in the first three weeks of December.
This mild plateauing of downloads isn’t necessarily a sign that smartphone growth is slowing, however. It’s possible that there’s simply less discrepancy between Christmas Day and the rest of the year because people are more used to the concept of app stores, and more likely to buy mobile software throughout the year than on a single day when surrounded by more tech savvy relatives who can guide them through the process. New device activations also still spike on Christmas, however, but it’s a less dramatic increase than in previous years.
It’s still likely worth the effort on the developer side to discount apps and offer sales that last through the holiday period, but the difference in volume between that period and the rest of the year might not justify such dramatic dips in software price anymore. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues, or if there’s a levelling off point where the Christmas app download spike stops decreasing year-over-year.