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Why Christmas Is an Agonizing Time for App Developers

Sergey Nivens/

That heartwarming/nauseating Apple advertisement left out one very important aspect of what has become a 21st-century holiday tradition. On Christmas day, when people open their presents and find shiny new smartphones or tablet computers, the first thing they will do is start downloading apps. First will come the regulars—Facebook, WhatsApp, Angry Birds—and then they will hunt for more, generally games. More apps will be downloaded tomorrow than on any single day before it.

This is both good news and bad news for app developers and publishers. A hit can mean millions of new downloads. But to get there also involves spending millions on marketing. And apart from the biggest publishers, few can count on making that money back.

Black Friday for apps


In 2012, the world downloaded 328 million apps on Christmas day, according to analytics firm Flurry, compared to a daily average of 155 million between Dec. 1 and Dec. 20. That was one-third more than the year before. This year will be bigger yet. “The holiday season is a key moment during the life-cycle of a gamer when she is actively looking for new content,” as SuperData, another research firm that specialises in games, puts it.

Read the full story at Quartz.

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