Is the ascent of health & fitness apps in the iTunes app store a sign of things to come for digital health and the wearables and quantified self movements?
Christmas happens to be especially important for mobile apps, especially in the US, as millions of news iPhones and iPads are activated on that day. App rank movements around Christmas are often indicative of new market demand and perhaps even be predictive of future trends. Following this reasoning, we wanted to use our data tracking over 1 million mobile apps to dive in a bit further to see the composition of the Top 1000 (Overall) charts and how they change before, on and after Christmas and to see what it might mean for the larger mobile app ecosystem.
Here’s what it looks like –
The chart shows the percentage of apps from specific genres in the Overall Top 1000 rankings, before, on and after Christmas. The table below summarizes this information and lists the 5 genres that saw the highest jump on Christmas day as compared to the week before –
As expected, Book, Entertainment, Games and Music genres experience significant jumps. This fits well with the hypothesis that jumps in these genres are highly correlated with downtime and relaxation. Utilities are a bit of a surprise, though it seems driven by new users downloading apps like Find my iPhone and Flashlight.
While the jump that certain genres see on Christmas is important, the residual effect of this jump is even more useful to analyze, i.e. the ability of those genres to remain sticky over time and not immediately revert back to their pre-Christmas levels. The table below lists the 5 genres that saw the highest level of stickiness – that is the change between the week before Christmas and the week after –
As is evident, Health & Fitness apps see a remarkable jump over the Holiday season. Sports apps are not too far behind although the gains are less remarkable after that. Whether the gains in health & fitness are driven by the general interest in digital health or wearable devices and the quantified self movement (think Fitbit & Jawbone) or if they’re explained by New Year’s resolutions made post-Christmas gluttony, the short-term ascent of Health & Fitness apps is clearly a trend worth continuing to watch.
Next, we analyzed how the pre-and-post Christmas bump in these 5 genres stands over time. The graph below shows the daily change in each genre’s share – the percentage of apps in the Top 1000 that belong to that genre – relative to its share on December 26, 2013. If the bump is purely seasonal, we would expect this number to go down over time. If the bump persists, there are interesting industry and publisher trends we can look at.
And what is interesting is that the Health & Fitness genre continues to gain strength post Christmas, only losing steam recently. Even then, there are over 3x more Health & Fitness apps in the Top 1000 on January 12, 2014 than there were on December 26, 2013. We will continue to monitor the data to see how long this residual effect lasts and whether the genres revert back to the mean.
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