Apple's yearly developer event, WWDC, took place yesterday. Among a number of other announcements, Apple unveiled its new iOS 11 operating system for mobile devices, which features a completely redesigned App Store. Many mobile marketers doubtless noticed during the revealing of the new design that some dramatic changes have been made to the App Store Charts, which currently and historically have indexed apps by download count and revenue (from both in-app purchases and premium price payments) across categories and overall for regions. The changes:
- The Top Grossing chart looks to be completely removed from the App Store. It could, presumably, be added back in before the global release of iOS 11 (which Apple said during WWDC will come in the Fall), but it was nowhere to be seen in the presentation, and I have also not found it in a beta version of iOS 11;
- The Top Downloaded charts on the iPhone will presented in groups of three (meaning the Top 1-3 are visible by default and a user must swipe right or click a "See All" link to scroll through the full list).
This change could* affect the App Store Intelligence industry, the companies that comprise which use the Grossing rankings (along with their own proprietary revenue data gleaned from SDKs implemented into partners' apps) to triangulate revenue estimates for apps in the App Store (and Google Play). Without the Grossing chart to provide an index, these estimates are impossible to generate: knowing the revenue of one app without being able to benchmark it against another doesn't provide the ability to model relative performance across the app economy.
Which isn't to say that the App Store Intelligence firms are doing that very well now, anyway. For instance, most estimates for the amount of money that Super Mario Run would generate were laughably conservative, and most developers I know take revenue estimates for the highest grossing apps (chart positions 1-20) with a grain of salt, anyway. Also, since the Grossing charts don't capture revenue generated from ads, which is becoming much more commercially important for mobile gaming (and non-gaming!) companies, the estimates generated by app intelligence firms are really only relevant for a specific segment of the gaming market -- even when they're roughly, directionally correct.
And these revenue estimates are very problematic for public companies, which are disproportionately impacted by inaccurate data being circulated about their businesses. I believe Apple is doing the right thing by removing the Grossing chart: it serves no purpose for the average consumer, it adds noise to the information available to public markets investors, and it emboldens and gives voice to the minority of analysts that are completely disconnected from the mobile app ecosystem.
*Apple maintains RSS feeds for its Top charts (here it is for Top Grossing chart in the US), but presumably it will shut down the Grossing Chart feed once that chart is removed from iOS 11. If the RSS feed isn't shut down with the removal of the Top Grossing chart, then the App Store intelligence industry will obviously continue to be able to access that data.