It was not an overstatement when they said there is a stupendous rise in number of mobile apps. From the year 2014 till 2016 there has been an amazing growth in the number of apps launched for downloads, with Android leading the way, and iOS closely behind.

However, in 2017 things began to change. And recently news began to surface that that Apple’s App Store has lost about 5% of apps. From the beginning to the end of the year 2017, the App Store apps had dropped from 2.2 million to 2.1million iOS apps. The statistics came from app analytics expert Appfigures.

Going by the above statistics, you can notice that, in terms of number of published apps, Apple is tailing closely behind Android; and by 2016, there is a slight lag in iOS, but it’s not too behind. But in 2017, it had fell back more than expected while Android steadily moved ahead inching towards the 4 million mark.

As Appfigures dug deeper to find out the reason, some interesting insights surfaced. It appeared that the decline was mainly due to two factors: One, Apple’s strict enforcement of its review guidelines; two, elimination of old apps which were not supporting 64-bit architecture.

The clean-up act that Apple carried out in 2016, by removing abandoned and outdated apps out of the store, had contributed to the decline. As the clean-up act continued, the effects began to show in October 2016 itself. It didn’t stop there, moving into 2017, Apple began its crackdown on ‘cloned’ and ‘spam apps’. Going by rule 2.25 in its rule book, it began to prohibit apps which ‘duplicated’ the features of the app store and began to remove apps which followed this practice. Apps like AppGratis and Appshopper became few of its victims.

Through the year 2017, hundreds and thousands of apps were removed from the app store. Apple tightened its policy further, this time going after template-based apps, but soon reversed the policy as it realized that it was impacting the chances of small businesses’ ability to compete on the App Store.

Followers of mobile app trends began to surmise that not enough iOS were being created and pushed into the market. Was it true that iOS developers weren’t churning out enough apps?

This could not be true.

If you see the below stats, except for the year 2014, a pretty decent number of iOS apps were being launched. It is just slightly behind Android in terms of number of apps released. The worst hit had been the year 2017, obviously.

The answer is simple. Due to its growing review regulations and tough action against spam and cloned apps, naturally fewer apps are getting approved these days.

On closer inspection, the research threw up another insight. Another reason why Androids app are more in numbers than iOS. It is called porting an app.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, here’s some light on it. Porting an app means taking an app built for one platform and changing/building it to run on another platform. In simpler terms porting apps means going from one platform to another. So, porting is another practice that has contributed to decline of apps in App Store. The below graph says it all.

Apps that were changed from iOS to Android is more than double compared to apps changed from Android to iOS.

So, these are some of the factors that has led iOS to fall behind Android. And Readers are advised not to arrive at a conclusion that iOS developers are not pushing enough apps into the store. As mentioned earlier, they do. It’s just that Apple’s App Store, by and large, diligently goes by its rule book. Though it has made some compromise in its regulations in past, it appears that it still religiously adheres to its stringent mobile app clearance decree.

While we see that Android is soaring high in terms for quantity, iOS on the other hand – as it claims – is focused more on quality. Whether iOS wants to race Android, or it wishes to go on in the same pace, is entirely up to itself.

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