iPhone App Downloads Drop Following Apple’s Crackdown On Incentivized Installs

Fiksu, maker of a user acquisition platform for mobile apps, has released new data indicating free iOS app downloads have shown a first-ever decline following Apple’s decision to halt incentivized app installs through things like virtual currency offers, etc.

Looking at the aggregate volume of downloads per day achieved by the top 200 free iPhone apps in the U.S. App Store last month, Fiksu reports that downloads dropped to 4.25 million per day in July, down from 4.505 million a day in June.  At the same time, Fiksu’s Cost per Loyal User Index–which measures the costs facing brands who proactively market their apps in an attempt to attract loyal users (defined as consumers who open an app three times or more)–slipped 5.5 percent in July to $1.20, its first decline following four months of increases.

iOS developers quickly realized that offering various incentives would help propel new apps out of obscurity, especially now that 400K+ apps exist in the App Store.  Incentives were also viewed as a reliable launching pad into the App Store’s coveted Top Apps countdown, enabling developers to create visibility and demand for their newest releases by promoting their efforts via existing iOS favorites.  Developers were in the clear until late April when Apple began cracking down on the concept, saying it violates section 3.10 of its App Store Review Guidelines, which states “Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.”

“For many app marketers, July was the first month without the ability to use incentivized download promotions,” Fiksu stated. “Many are starting to reallocate their budgets into other campaigns, which may not have the ‘immediate gratification’ effect of bulk-buying downloads to achieve rank, but which delivers higher loyal user conversion rates at a lower net cost.”