iOS 6 Shakes Up The Ranks But No Significant Changes In The Ranking Algorithm

There has been a lot of buzz lately about a new algorithm to determine the rankings in the iOS 6 Appstore. Many developers noticed a substantial decrease in ranking popularity without large changes in the daily download volume. As the rankings is an important means of discovery its important to understand if Apple indeed changed the algorithm.

We conducted some checks in the vast amount of data we collect on a daily basis and don’t see any data that proves the algorithm has been changed significantly. First of all, the accuracy of the correlation between downloads and rankings is just as accurate as before iOS 6 has been introduced, so even if there are new explanatory variables in the rankings, the weight is limited. Moreover, we looked at the differences in rankings over the few days prior to launch to see if we could identify more volatility on the 20th (iOS 6 release date) compared to the days before. The standard deviation is indeed higher on the 20th but this is mainly caused by Apple applications like, Podcasts, iTunes U, Find My Friends, Find My iPhone and iBooks complemented with applications that utilize the passbook functionality like Target, Ticketmaster and Fandango Movies. Therefore we feel this is due to the start-up screen where Apple pushes its own apps and applications that are featured by Apple because they utilize the passbook functionality and subsequently generated more downloads. When we disregard those applications from the analysis, the standard deviations are in line with the previous days.

There were more changes in the Apple App Store, for example, the continuous scrolling of the top lists, the search results with only one result at a time and genius recommendations on the device. The effect of these changes requires more long-term analysis, which we will do in the future!

Not surprisingly, in the countries where the new iPhone is already available we have seen a large uptake in the number of free downloads. For example in the U.K., the free download volume in the past five days was 35% – 62% higher compared to the same day a week before. These U.K. figures are in line with the other countries where the new iPhone is available. The paid download volume and the revenues generated by one-off fees and in-app purchases are up as well, however to a significantly lesser extent. For example, the revenues in the United States are up by 4% – 8% in the past few days compared to the same day a week before.

For developers and publishers, this update shows that it’s important to use Distimo Monitor to keep up with your analytics and track what your competitors are doing. Distimo Monitor now also supports leaderboards to go through all the rankings historically.

Gert Jan Spriensma