The release of iOS 11 marks one of the largest milestones in the history of the App Store – a major revamp. In this post, we will look at the app economy at large and drill down to the core of what these changes mean for you as an app publisher.

Flashback to 2016, something was bubbling from the insides of the tech giants with Facebook and their kinds. Apparently, the new thing was supposed to be chatbots. Around the same time, a new media narrative unfolded: Apps no longer mattered and users didn't care anymore.

The app boom is over. Your phone is full of apps, and you're done downloading new ones — unless they're Snapchat or Uber.

Around the same period, Peter Kafka gravely warned via Recode that "the app boom is over," as total U.S. app downloads reportedly declined year over year by 20 percent. Dan Frommer had earlier written for Quartz that most users weren't downloading any apps at all, on average each month, based on data from comScore. Consequently several of our largest clients started pulling the brake on apps.

Something wasn't right.
During Apple's "
very bad / second best quarter in history" that ended last March, the company's services revenue grew by 20 percent, making it nearly a $6 billion business quarterly. This summer they rolled out iOS11, pinnacled by the new App Store.

The new App Store. Be aware of the changes ahead.
Earlier this year we busted the largest app myth – that newly released apps grow substantially large user bases without having to put in a launch plan effort. In the article, we covered how to build-in viral growth using smart ASO-techniques. The updated App Store comes with new opportunities and downsides that you as an app publisher needs to be aware of.

  • Title characters down with 20
    One of the biggest downsides for us app publishers is that Apple now limits us to 30 app title characters (down from 50), punishing those of us who took advantage of the space by baking in relevant keywords with high search volume.

  • Subtitles to boosts rankings
    Our first ASO experiments have shown, that subtitles influences keyword search ranks. In short, Apple already indexes keywords used in the subtitle. Before you get too euphoric, though the subtitle fields get indexed by Apple, this does not mean, you get a lot more space for keywords.

  • Smaller screenshots affects readability
    If you have written a small description on your screenshots, you might want to revise how that looks like on iOS11 as search results now display three smaller ones, rather than two tall. Write shorter, clearer and bigger copy.

  • Engaging through auto-playing previews
    Previews make it even easier to show users your goods in action (works on both your iOS or tvOS apps). Since app previews auto-play, the news is that you don’t have to force your users to tap on the video to play it, they will become key in helping your users to discover and learn what you offer.

  • More control with Phased apps
    The update rate to new versions has now become so high within the first month, it can cause serious crashes when connecting an app with a new backend. This new update will make it easier for you to onboard the entire user base on to your latest update by distributing them into ‘phases’ over a month period and giving you the control to pause these auto updates at any time.

  • Reviews become more prominent
    As they are displayed upfront in the searches more frequently. Publishers have the possibility to reply to comments as in Google Play.

Apps are actually growing rapidly.
Fast forward to 2017 and rather than apps being dead - as various pundits have been grousing about since 2014 - the New App Store marks the dawn of a new era for apps.

As growth has been picking up, it’s predicted to occur even faster than before. According to analyst App Annie – growth is pointing towards a 25% annual growth rate in global mobile app revenues, assisted by App Store subscriptions, leading to total revenues of $139 billion in 2021. Games are predicted to account for $105.2 billion, while other apps are expected to amount to $33.8 billion in revenues.  

Eat that, Kafka, chatbots and pundits.