The Fiksu Blog

The Year Without an App Store Freeze

App Store Freeze

The busiest single period of the app marketing year is going on right now — and yesterday, on Christmas, all eyes were on the iTunes App Store. Fiksu was carefully monitoring the App Store, watching for the “freeze” — the period where ranks in the all-important Top Charts stop moving. In recent years, the freeze has been getting shorter and shorter. This year, for the first time, there was no real freeze at all.

As we discussed in a recent article on VentureBeat, a change to how the App Store updates made a potential freeze largely irrelevant anyway: because ranks only update every three hours, there’s no longer a usable window for app marketers to try to get “free” rank. This was the first Christmas with that update schedule in place, and in our investigation, it seemed like Apple was generally able to keep up with the crush of downloads and refresh the ranks roughly every three hours throughout the day. And there certainly were plenty of new iDevices being opened yesterday — our iPhone and iPad usage tracker shows a sharp jump in usage of the newest devices:

ipad-christmas-tracker2

Despite not seeing a total freeze, we did see some interesting behavior:

  • There were some stretches of time Christmas Eve where movement up and down the ranks was quite limited. This could simply be due to significant competitive pressure, as app marketers ramped up their advertising spend to prepare for the Christmas rush.
  • Some users noted that when ranks did update, it was difficult to get the ranks to refresh in iTunes, even by quitting iTunes and restarting.

The high-stakes holiday season continues for the next week or so, as people with new devices continue to load them up with apps. In fact, many apps get more downloads in December than they do in any quarter the rest of the year. App marketers across Apple and Android platforms have their work cut out for them to capture their share of those new users. We’ll continue keeping an eye on the app marketing ecosystems and report any additional updates as needed.