Search Drove 59% of Apple App Installs Amid Pandemic [REPORT]

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The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic brought about a massive change in consumer behaviour which also affected the types of apps consumers downloaded in 2020.

The latest report by Sensor Tower explores which methods drove the most downloads to Apple’s App Store and in turn, reveals some key insights about the same.

Let’s dig into it.


Search Accounted For 59% App Installs

In 2019, data from Apple App Store showed that search was losing ground when it came to driving app installs due to an increase in app referrals and accounted for 56% of all app installs. However, 2020 saw the reversal of the trend, which could mostly be attributed to App Store users downloading apps being marketed via word-of-mouth.

In 2020, search bounced back and accounted for a whopping 59% of app installs on Apple’s App Store. Furthermore, Sensor Tower’s report highlighted that consumers in 2020 were primarily searching brand names or specific apps as opposed to generic terms.

Source: Sensor Tower

After search, app referrals grabbed the spot for being the second biggest driver of app downloads on Apple’s platform in 2020. However, its share declined from 22% in 2019 to 20% in 2020. And the third most installs came from the obvious method of browsing the store which accounted for 12%, down by 1 point from the year prior to that.

Now, note here that the comeback of search as the dominant and biggest source of Apple App Store downloads was the most impactful for apps in the ‘non-gaming category, where it accounted for 70% of installs in 2020. This was reportedly 7 percent points up from 2019, wherein the search method’s share fell to 63%.

App Referrals: The Biggest Sources Of Mobile Game Downloads

But, that being said, when it comes to mobile games, app referrals continue to helm the position as the largest source of downloads which is close to 38% in 2020. Note here that that the method of game discovery via personal recommendations was already on the rise in the preceding years, climbing 5 percent points from 26% (2018) to 31% (2019). The COVID-19 simply seemed to have further accelerated the growth of app referral-based downloads by a significant 7 percent points.

Source: Sensor Tower

As for the percentage of mobile game downloads originating from search, it fell by 2 percent points, from 44% in 2018 to 42% in 2019. In fact, in 2020, Apple saw a steeper decline in the game downloads from search to a mere 35%. Now, if this trend continues down the same path, then it is quite obvious that the future will see a majority of mobile game downloads solely from app referrals only.

Sensor Tower took analysed four sources for their report on App Store downloads: browsing, search, app referral and web referral. How do you download apps for yourself? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.


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