iOS & Android Shatter Records on Christmas Day

By: Peter Farago


Historically, more iOS and Android apps are downloaded on Christmas than on any other day of the year.  This is due to a massive influx of smartphones and tablets given as gifts.  As fast as loved-ones can unwrap their shiny, new Galaxy IIs, iPhones, iPads, Kindle Fires, et cetera, they start loading them up with new apps.

With record-breaking mobile growth for both Apple and Google this year, Flurry has been anticipating an equally record-breaking Christmas.  In 2011, Apple’s App Store is on pace to exceed 10 billion downloads, which will double the cumulative number of downloads earned across 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Android Market also set records, more than tripling its life-to-date downloads of 3 billion, reached in May 2011, to now over 10 billion cumulative downloads reached this December.

The chart below shows the number of new iOS and Android devices detected worldwide by Flurry on Christmas Day.   With more than 140,000 apps using Flurry Analytics, Flurry detects roughly 100% of all new iOS and Android devices activated each day.  The company regularly triangulates its device coverage with publicly announced figures from Google and Apple.

New iOS & Android Device Activations, Christmas Day (Millions)

Putting into perspective the sheer size of new devices activated on Christmas Day, Flurry established a baseline using the average from the first 20 days of December.  Over this period, daily activations had little variance, ranging between 1.3 to 1.8 million, with an average of 1.5 million.  On Christmas Day, activations jumped to more than 6.8 million, a 353% increase over the baseline.   Compared to Christmas Day 2010, the previous single-day record, with 2.8 million device activations, Christmas 2011 grew by more than 140%.

With a record number of iOS and Android devices flooding the market, we next look at the surge in app downloads.  For these figures, Flurry estimates its percentage penetration per platform to estimate total market app downloads.  The company also benchmarks download volumes tracked in its system against publicly released app download milestones from Apple and Google.

New iOS and Android app downloads, Christmas Day (millions)

The above chart shows that, compared to the baseline, app downloads more than doubled on Christmas.  Specifically, over the December 1 – 20 baseline, download volumes increased by 125% on Christmas.  Note that, relative to the percentage increase in device activations, we expect the percentage increase in downloads to be lower.  This is because of the sizable device installed base in the market onto which apps are constantly downloaded.  This keeps the baseline higher vis a vis the Christmas peak.  However, it’s also worth noting that nearly a quarter of a billion downloads occurred on Christmas Day 2011, which is more than double any other day in the history of iOS and Android devices, except December 24, which delivered roughly 150 million downloads.

As observed in 2010, Flurry expects elevated download levels from Christmas through New Year’s Day.  Over this period, we anticipate approximately 1 billion total downloads.

For our final chart, we tripled-dog dared ourselves to show how voraciously consumers download apps on Christmas.  The chart below compares how many downloads occurred, per hour, over the course of Christmas Day, compared to the Dec 1 – 20 baseline.

App downloads by hour, Christmas Day vs. December average

The blue line, which creates an average “day” using December 1 – 20, displays the number of downloads over a 24 hour period, per hour.   The sum of all hours on the blue line equals 108 million.  Starting on the left, at 5 AM, there were 720,000 downloads.  Over the baseline “day,” the rate of downloads per hour increased, with its peak at 9 PM of over 8 million downloads.  The grey area represents the “prime-time” slot of 7 pm – 10 pm.  All time zones are normalized, meaning that in our calculations, 7 AM in London is lined up with 7 AM in San Francisco, which is when it appears most people start unwrapping gifts under the tree.    

Now, comparing the green line – Christmas Day – to the blue baseline, we notice Christmas downloads dominate each hour of the day.  From 8 AM to Midnight, there are over twice as many downloads per hour.  And already by 9 AM, hourly downloads on Christmas exceeded 10 million.  At its zenith, from 7 PM to 9 PM, hourly downloads exceeded 15 million.  Between 11 AM to 11 PM, more than 175 million apps were downloaded.  By itself, this half day delivers over 70% more downloads than the entire baseline day.

In our most recent report, Flurry outlined the remaining, massive growth potential in both developed and emerging economies for smart device adoption.  With this record-breaking year coming to a close, we eagerly look forward to 2012, with all signs pointing toward accelerating growth.  Here’s to a Happy New Year for app developers.