In our last post, we looked at data from the top 100 free apps as well as data from the top 100 grossing apps, which were 99% free, to understand how often free apps are releasing updates. Now, we’ll take a look at the top 100 paid apps since we saw a meaningful difference in this segment of apps compared to free apps.
We also went over update types and concluded that revisions are more frequent than minor updates, which are more frequent than major updates. Frequent updates help apps address user needs faster. With recent changes to how app ratings are calculated in the app stores, apps now have an even greater incentive to update frequently since they have better chances of increasing their rank with newer updates and newer user ratings.
Update frequency among paid apps
So let’s take a look at the data and see how often the top paid apps are being updated. The first graph covers the median days between app updates in the top paid apps vs their app ranking.
After removing four outliers that skewed the data, the median days between app updates among the top paid apps is 53 days. This suggests that paid apps tend to update on a monthly or bimonthly schedule. Free apps update weekly or biweekly.
Update frequency and app rank
We also wanted to know how update frequency affects app rank. To try an answer this we took a look at the average days between app updates to see if it might have an impact on app ranking. The best fit line shows an upward trend.
The trend line shows that the longer the average days between updates, the lower the app ranking was. This supports the idea that updates should happen regularly and frequently.
Another interesting graph to look at is the time since the last update.
The graph shows just how many of the top paid apps have gone years since their last update. It confirms that paid apps don’t update their apps as frequently as free apps. This could be due to several things. These apps could have more stable releases. They might serve a very narrow purpose that doesn’t need frequent updates. These apps also collect payment up front, which means they likely don’t rely on constant user engagement as much as free apps that earn money through in-app purchases or advertising revenue.
Price and app rank
Another interesting aspect to look at is the relationship between an app’s price and its rank. The median app price in the top paid apps is $2.99, while the lowest app price is $0.99 and the highest being $24.99. The most common price point, however, is $4.99 and it occurs 21 times in the data. Let’s take a look at the graph of app ranking vs. app price to see if there is a trend.
This graph suggests that the higher the price of the app, the lower its rank on the top paid charts. This just adds more certainty to the notion that an app needs to be priced competitively for its best chance at success.
App category and update frequency
Let’s look at the distribution of categories among the top 100 paid apps.
Unsurprisingly, games are the most popular apps out there at 53%. Since many categories are underrepresented, we will only compare the top four categories.
Games and photo and video apps are the more common categories, and their median frequency is closer to that of the entire data set. Music and education apps seem to have less frequent updates, which could suggest that they are less feature-oriented and don’t require many updates.
Overall, the data suggests that free apps need constant updates in order to maintain user engagement, while paid apps that collect payment upfront don’t release updates as frequently.
Paid apps seem to follow a monthly or bi-monthly schedule. Due to this length of time between updates, it’s crucial that releases are as stable and bug-free as possible.
How Instabug can help
Paid apps are not going to be updated every week to address small fixes. Therefore any minor or major release needs to be tested thoroughly. And this needs dedicated teams to detect problems, solve them, and prepare the solution to meet the release window. Also, big or small, development teams will always hit unforeseen errors and they could be very costly.
This is where Instabug comes in, the comprehensive platform for Real-Time Contextual Insights throughout the entire app life cycle. Instabug helps apps:
- Monitor release stability with Crash Reporting
- Find, debug, and fix issues faster with Bug Reporting
- Collect valuable user input through In-App Feedback forms and In-App Surveys
- Drive more five-star reviews with App Rating surveys
- Alert users to new features with What’s New broadcasts
- Encourage users to update through Version Update prompts