June 14, 2022

There are many discontinued Android apps and that says a lot about indie development

Hundreds of thousands went without updates for at least 2 years

Applications share a high degree of correlation with businesses. Unless it’s based on intellectual property that can Well, a lot of them don’t last a terribly long time. The climb is steep, and many developers aren’t equipped to meet all the challenges along the way unless they receive a decent investment or are bought out. While this isn’t the story of all apps, there are plenty that will show up in your app store search results and won’t receive an update for months or even years. A new report attempts to shed light on how many of these so-called “abandoned” apps exist.

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Research House Analysts Pixelate say (via The register and Hope‘s The Android Edge newsletter) they found 1.5 million apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store that haven’t been updated in at least 2 years with 314,000 apps that haven’t been updated. haven’t been pushed for 5 years or more. On the other hand, 2 million apps were updated in the last year, of which 1.3 million were deleted in the last 6 months.

On the Android side, around 870,000 apps fall below the 2-year threshold (58% market share), the majority in the 2-3 year segment at 465,000. updates for 4 years or more, iOS takes the largest share at 290,000 (56%). AppBrain counted more than 2.65 million apps in active offer on the Play Store at the time of writing, which means that almost a third of them have been abandoned for at least 2 years.


There are very few maintenance-free persistent applications, although a good portion of them tend to have followers. However, there will be fewer of them in the future as operating systems become increasingly complex to combat security threats and improve user experiences. The Play Store is already stepping up the pressure on app publishers to commit to frequent updates or risk being garbled. That’s not to say that Google Play is the ultimate in Android app publishing – Amazon’s App Store is another lucrative example – but none can offer such a large audience with more flexible update guidelines.

Independent developers monitoring small communities will find it even harder than they already are to keep up. AppBrain indicates that about four out of five Android apps have 10,000 downloads or less. Yet 31% of apps with 10,000 or fewer downloads on Android and iOS haven’t seen an update in at least 2 years, compared to 27% who have had at least one in the past 6 months.


It seems for a good number of coders that freelance mobile app development is rapidly losing its viability as a side hustle. Will they be able to chase and earn full-time Google and Apple income? Or will they find themselves pushed out of the picture by life circumstances or an acquisition?


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