Are App Bundles Living Up to the Hype?

App Bundles have been one of the most anticipated and important new features for the App Store with the release of iOS 8. Considered to be a vital new way to drive revenue, many have been speculating about the tangible effects they would bring for individual developers since they were announced, including us in our Road to iOS 8 post by Joe Cieplinski.

As of 10/21, there are 4,448 app bundles on the App Store.

Armed with a month’s worth of data, we’re starting to get a better picture of how app developers are utilizing app bundles. As of today, a total of 4,448 app bundles were created and made available for sale on the App Store which means about 130 new app bundles are released every day. It looks like developers are quick to use this new feature and seem to be experimenting. Roughly 20% of the bundles that were launched since September 17th have been removed from the App Store, which isn’t very surprising considering this is completely new. Given how new app bundles are, we’re expecting to see developers experimenting even more in the coming months as they try to figure out the best way to utilize them.

In this post we’ll be taking a look at app bundles that have seen success in the App Store. By success we mean app bundles that were either featured or ranked in the top charts in the last month.

Top Bundles

There are 1,461 app bundles that were featured or found themselves in the top ranks of a category. After an initial surge on launch day (Sept 17th), the growth of bundles that were featured or appearing in the top ranks has been pretty consistent at roughly 64 new bundles per day.

App bundle growth - appFigures

So far, 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings.

Developers have seen varying degrees of success when rolling their apps into bundles. So far, 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings. Of these 860 developers, 581 have seen only one bundle take-off, 141 have seen two of their bundles take-off, and 138 have seen three or more of their bundles find success in the app store rankings, meaning that success was definitely not evenly distributed.

Ranked app bundles - appFigures

Developers with the most ranked or featured app bundles include Barcelona Multimedia (9), Duck Duck Moose Inc. (9), Matchkin (8), Pea Pod Labs LLC (8), Pocket Prep LLC (8), and Smarty Ears (8).

What’s inside the bundle?

The bigger question for developers is to determine how many apps to include in a bundle? Even though Apple allows up to ten apps in a single bundle, most developers have chosen to keep the size of their bundles on the smaller side.

Number of apps in bundles - appFigures

80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps

Just under 50% of the top bundles are composed of two or three apps, and 80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps. For consumers, however, the number of apps they purchase in a bundle is less important than the amount of money they ultimately save. Looking at savings in the aggregate, consumers can expect an average discount of $5.64 with a range of savings between a minimum of $0.95 and a maximum of $98.95.

Consumers can expect to save $5.64 on average

The vast majority of bundles yield a savings below $10.00. In fact, if lined up in ascending order, the middle 50% of savings fall between $1.97 and $5.98. When grouping savings by the size of the bundle, the general trend is that larger bundles lead to increased savings.

Average consumer savings with app bundles - appFigures

We’ll be keeping an eye on trends for bundled products and will continue providing you monetization strategies in the future so that you’re able to make even better decisions as more bundles hit the App Store.

Takeaways:

  • There are currently 4,448 app bundles on the App Store
  • 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings
  • 80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps
  • Top bundles contain apps predominately from the Games, Education, and Health & Fitness categories
  • The top bundles have a median of 4 apps
  • The average savings per bundle is $5.64
  • The largest savings for a featured or top ranked bundle is $98.95

Did you know you can track bundle sales, reviews, ranks, and even see when you’re featured with appFigures?

Are Free Speech and App Store Ratings Related?

Here at appFigures, we are constantly exchanging theories about what drives individuals to download an app, post a rating, or write a review. One recent idea intrigued us all: Are ratings from some countries inherently more positive (or critical) than other countries?

After a bit of discussion, we decided to use app ratings to construct a sentiment index that captures each country’s overall rating disposition in relation to its peers. For those interested in the technical details, you can jump to the section on methodology at the bottom of the post. After we scrub and filter our data, we plot the index on a global map, color coordinating each country’s rating sentiment. Shades of purple indicate countries with relatively pessimistic ratings while shades of green convey relative optimism. The deeper the shade the deeper the sentiment with grey being neutral.

App store ratings sentiment map - appFigures

Most striking is the degree of clustering in the data. Western Europe and the Nordic countries stand out as tough critics when it comes to ratings. Advancing across Europe to the west, though, leads to increasingly favorable ratings. Central Europe is more neutral while countries in eastern Europe are upbeat. Outside of Europe, South East and Central Asia are uniformly positive with countries in Central America and the Andean region of South America sharing the same degree of ratings optimism.

One of the more intriguing patterns is that the advanced industrialized democracies tend to be more critical in their ratings than the rest of the world. Although the United States is the obvious exception, we can see that Japan, Canada, and Australia combine with Western and Northern Europe in forming a group of countries that tend to be more critical. Is it wealth? Is it culture? Is it technological savvy? We decided to take it a step further.

App Ratings and Free Speech

Determined to find some plausible explanation, we compare our analysis with other publicly available global indices. Some of these include GDP per capita, the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) from Reporters Without Borders, and the Gini coefficient of income inequality. Of these indices, the World Press Freedom Index is clearly favored above the others in terms of explanatory power (followed by the Networked Readiness Index). Check out the best-fit line comparing our sentiment index with the log of the World Press Freedom Index below.

App Store sentiment and the World Press Freedom Index - appFigures

Generally speaking, countries that are less tolerant of public opinion (higher WPFI) produce app ratings that are more favorable than countries with a robust Fourth Estate. Although there is still a good deal of sentiment variation left unexplained, a relationship between country rating sentiment and freedom of the press is clearly present. There could be a variety of reasons for this relationship: Self-censorship or a firm government grip on public dissent could result in less critical ratings, even if the target is a harmless mobile app.

Takeaways

  • The five most optimistic countries are:
    1. Qatar (0.27)
    2. Venezuela (0.26)
    3. the Dominican Republic (0.25)
    4. Bulgaria (0.23)
    5. the Ukraine (0.23).
  • The five most critical countries are:
    1. Finland (-0.19)
    2. France (-0.17)
    3. Germany (-0.15)
    4. Sweden (-0.13)
    5. the Netherlands (-0.13)
  • The U.S. is relatively neutral with a deviation value of 0.05.
  • The difference between the most optimistic and the most critical country is 0.47 stars.
  • For 88% of the apps included in this analysis, country designation and ratings distributions are statistically dependent. This provides support for our chosen methodology.

Methodology

Apples-to-Apples

Indices are usually complex beasts so we wanted to shed some light on how we constructed our sentiment index. We plan to continue updating this index and so methodology is very important.

One of the challenges in comparing country level ratings is settling on an appropriate metric to use. Simply averaging app ratings by country and comparing country averages was not sufficient in our initial experiments. Since there is no guarantee that each country will review the same underlying group of apps, this approach would produce apples-to-oranges comparisons. A more suitable approach is to compare and summarize how different countries review the same app, relative to each other.

To build up a global perspective, the index examines country ratings for apps worldwide. For each app, we compare how the average review for each country deviates from the overall average for that app. Averaging across a country’s individual app deviations allows us to assign a country-specific value representing its rating ‘sentiment’. Formally, for a given country i, its rating sentiment Si is given as:

where xij is how country i rates app j, j is the average country rating for app j, Ji is the set of apps country i rates, and |Ji| denotes the cardinality of that set. For a less abstract definition, take a look at the graphic to the right. Focus on the average rating from the USA for each of the three generic apps. For each app, we can record the difference between the US rating and that app’s overall average rating. For App 1, this deviation is +0.80, indicating the US rates App 1 more favorably than average. Taking the mean of each US deviation yields +0.20. In this small example, the value 0.20 represents the aggregate US sentiment when reviewing apps. In the report above, this method is extended to include a much larger number of countries and products. To ensure a valid ratings sample for both products and countries, we make three important restrictions on our data:

  • We only consider country/product pairs that have a least 30 user-level ratings.
  • Only products that are rated by 7 or more countries are considered.
  • Countries must rate more than 30 products to be included in our analysis.

With these filters, our analysis is based on a universe of more than 220 million ratings from over 100 countries.

Significance

A natural question to ask is whether the differences between country’s rating sentiments are (statistically) significant. To address this concern, we perform two different tests. A chi-squared test is administered to each product to check whether the ratings distribution for that app (one star, two stars,…) is independent of country classification. At the standard 0.05 significance level, 88 percent of apps reject independence between country designation and ratings. Additionally, two-sample t-tests are applied to the deviation values for each unique pair of country combinations. At the 0.05 significance level, 80 percent of country combinations have statistically different sentiment values.

Variation

For those interested in the R2 value of our best-fit line, a great article from Minitab can be found here. Although a value of 0.274 may seem low, in the context of the social sciences, it is pretty solid. As an example, take a recently published report in Psychological Science that appeared in a Forbes top-ten list (#5). The R2 values from regressions in this study range from 0.30 to 0.33, all of which include a minimum of three explanatory variables.

Download Sentiment Index (Excel)

School Calendar Changes App Rankings, as Apps Take the Classroom Mobile

Smartphone access among teens has increased substantially over the past years. According to a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, nearly 4 out of 10 teens now own a smartphone. With summer winding down and school underway, we thought it would be interesting to discuss a certain kind of innovation app developers are bringing to the educational sector and how school districts are incorporating this technology into the classroom.

Classroom Communication and Organization

In the Education category, there is a particular group of ‘freemium’ apps that make it easier for educational stakeholders (e.g. schools, teachers, parents) to communicate and share information about student progress in the classroom. Blackboard, the original classroom organizer, is still widely used, but its poor average user rating (2.2 stars) has opened the door for significant competition.

For now, these apps are dominating the ranks of the Education categories, but this dominance is seasonal. Below are the ranks of Blackboard Mobile and five of its direct competitors from September 2013 to September 2014: Canvas by Infrastructure, ClassDojo, Edmodo, Infinite Campus Mobile Portal, and Remind.

classroom-ranks

Regardless of where in the ranks each app appears, they all share similar movements that track the academic calendar. Each rank series starts at the peak of its popularity as teachers, students, and parents download their designated application and prepare for class. As the fall semester continues, rankings slowly begin to slide with a sharp drop during winter break. Most of the rankings bounce back as the 2014 spring semester begins and hold their positions until summer recess. As you might expect, rankings for these type of apps tend to slip during the summer, with ClassDojo, Edmodo, and Infinite Campus Mobile Portal the most noticeable. Oddly, the iOS ranks for Remind and Canvas strengthen during the first half of summer. As the current fall semester approaches, all apps again surge up the ranks to peak popularity.

While investigating these education-centered products, we came across another classroom organization app developed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). Its release coincided with the start of the 2014/2015 school year. As one of the largest public county school district in the United States, the potential consumer base for an M-DCPS app is large enough to drive it into the top ranks of the education category for iOS and Play, as well as peaking at 48th in Apple’s top overall category.

education-miami-dade

Miami-Dade is not the only school system providing mobile services to their constituents either. The developer SchoolInfoApp has been providing local schools and districts with classroom communication and organization apps with content and features localized to their community.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how much traction these locally developed classroom apps gain outside the app stores, and in the broader education community. It’s clear that a big push by school districts throughout the country are making them more commonplace, but with a focus on parent engagement, will these applications have any real impact on student achievement or test scores? Let us know what you think, below.

World Cup Fever Takes Over the App Store

World Cup fever has descended upon the iOS app store, both globally and in the United States. Apps designed specifically to follow the world’s largest sporting event are surging up the ranks with none benefiting more than the official FIFA app.

fifa_official

Univision Deportes and watchESPN, two apps that offer live streams of first-round matches, have kept pace with the official FIFA app. As of June 16th, these three are ranked one, two, and three in the US Sports category as well as one, three, and seven in the US Top Overall category.

sports_sports

sports

World Cup Fever extends even to fans supporting their teams in the digital realm. FIFA 14 by EA Sports is enjoying similar love in the iOS app store.

fifa_ea

Enjoy the games!