Mobile apps of some popular transportation apps are popular in countries where the companies don't operate. Growth hacking gone bad, an app store bug or evidence of latent demand for Uber and Lyft's services in countries ranging from Kazakhstan to Estonia to Mongolia?

One of the metrics we are paying close attention to while tracking over 1M+ mobile apps in the iTunes App Store is the app’s ranking in the Top 100 charts around the world.

And so as we were analyzing the data for various taxi and car sharing services, we noticed many of the largest players in the market are ranked (sometimes highly) even in countries where they don’t have a presence in. For example, Uber is ranked 9 in the Travel genre in Nigeria. At the time of writing, their website did not indicate presence there. Similarly, Lyft is ranked 94 in Barbados while it’s website seems to suggest that they are a US-only business right now.

Here are the total number of countries in which each app is ranked in the Top 1000 -


And here’s a visual comparison of Uber and Lyft (darker color indicates a better rank) -

And of Hailo and Sidecar -

Finally, here’s a detailed table that lists the countries where Uber, Lyft, Hailo and Sidecar have a presence in the Top 1000 chart either in the Travel or the Overall genre -

Whether it’s a side-effect of the practicing the dark art of App Store Optimization, a bug of some sort or evidence of underlying demand for black car services in Mongolia (where Uber is in the top 1000) or Kazakhstan (where both Uber and Lyft are both in the top 1000) is to be determined.

We’ll continue to analyze the data for clues. To stay abreast of additional mobile app store analyses and fast moving publishers, sign up for our newsletter here.

Update: A plausible fourth explanation for this bizarre trend was offered by stephenhuey over at Hacker News - “If iOS users tend to be a small affluent subset of the population of small developing countries such as Mongolia, then they’re more likely to be travelers and downloading apps needed in other countries, right? If the total number of downloads of all apps is pretty small in those countries, then it’s no big deal to make it into the top 1000, because it might just mean there were a few dozen downloads of your app.” (Link)

  • Slugdoc

    Absolutely a plausible explanation. Not even affluent. Perhaps anyone looking for work or who has emigrated.

  • MrGrillet

    Could also be from people in those countries who just interested in seeing the apps they read about on major news outlets. Or people learning about app development… end those trying to come up with apps to put into their markets.

    Doesn’t really surprise me.