App Downloads During the Holidays: Winners and Losers

Nov 27, 2018
By: Marissa Camilli

The holidays are just around the corner – and for many app developers and marketers that means just one thing: Ka-ching! Make no mistake, this is a busy time for everyone involved in the smartphone ecosystem and there’s potentially a lot of money to be made.

With more than a third of all new devices typically purchased in the last three months of the year – it’s easy to see why app engagement goes through the roof during the holidays. In recent years, we’ve witnessed app downloads, and revenue begin to spike after Black Friday and positively soar during November, December and well into January.

You’d be forgiven for thinking all of this action revolves around a handful of app categories. It’s undoubtedly true that gaming and entertainment apps (could you imagine the Holiday season without a Spotify playlist?) do very well at this time of the year. But that doesn’t mean that other categories suffer as a consequence of all that holiday cheer.

In fact, with so many new devices in the hands of so many new users, there is perhaps no better time to launch an app than in the run-up to the holidays.

Everyone’s a Winner

When you think of the holiday season – it’s perhaps too easy to focus on gifting, feasting and partying. But there are so many other incredible things that happen during and just after the holidays – there’s an excellent chance your app will find a substantial user-base during the festive season.

We’ve compiled a list of six app categories that you might not normally associate with the holidays but have an excellent business case for driving engagement at this time of the year.

Note: We don’t like to think of anyone “losing” during the holiday season – but it’s inevitable that some apps will do better than others. Read to the bottom of this post to ensure your “winning” app doesn’t fall short of its goals.

Financial Services Apps

Financial services might not be the top of your holiday shopping list – but very few of us can afford to get through the season without them. There’s no escaping from the fact that the holidays can be a costly time of the year.

At the very least, most people will want to keep an eye on their spending, making sure the festivities don’t break the bank. Other’s may wish to explore loan opportunities or check their credit scores before making potentially large purchasing decisions. Then there are mobile payment solutions – seriously who wants to carry cash at this time of the year? Even financial services like insurance get a look in during the holidays with people looking to protect high-value gifts, travel, etc.

Health and Fitness Apps

It’s perhaps ironic that at the time of year when huge portions of the population pile-up huge portions of festive food and drink on their tables – so many of us also start thinking about our health.

Fitness trackers, diet planners and all manner of “wellness” apps are incredibly popular at this time of the year. If you have an app that will help millions of smartphone owners stick to their New Year’s resolutions – you’d be a fool not to launch it this side of Christmas.

Travel Apps

Travel is another staple of the holiday season. If you are anything like me, you’ll be spending most of the holiday season in transit. Therefore, smartphone travel apps – selling flights, train tickets, hotel rooms, taxi (ride-sharing) services are going to see a tremendous amount of engagement in the run-up to and during the holidays.

But the travel industry doesn’t grind to a halt when everyone returns to work in the New Year. January, being a rather bleak time of the year for most of us in the northern hemisphere, is peak booking time for travel companies as consumers’ minds turn towards the long-distant summer months.

Recruitment Apps

New Year, New Career. How many of you will use the festive break to update your resume and start looking for a new job?

BTW – if you are looking for a new career at the sharp-end of smartphone technology, you could do a lot worse than check out the opportunities at Digital Turbine.

Dating Apps

Fed-up of channeling your inner Bridget Jones and fielding questions over the holiday season from well-meaning (read: thoroughly annoying and downright patronizing) relatives about your lack of a significant other? A smartphone dating app might be the solution and certainly will be more entertaining than watching your elderly aunt fall asleep in front of the television.

Marketplace/Exchange Apps

So, what do you do with all those presents that you graciously accepted but really can’t imagine ever using? You could re-gift them – but that’s not very cool. How about turning them into cash via an online marketplace? As well as the more “traditional” services like eBay (where you can buy and sell anything and everything), there are more niche services which specialize in books, music, movies, and fashion. There are even marketplace apps for that last minute/ultimate lazy gift – the gift voucher.

Opportunities and Challenges

While there are many opportunities to launch and promote your new app in the run-up to the Holidays, there is also one very big challenge. Everyone else has had the same idea and as a result app marketplaces like the Google Play Store will be jam-packed with competitive apps, all vying for engagement. This will almost certainly push the cost of acquisition up, as everyone tries to get their app to the top of the various categories with various optimization strategies.

Note: If you think it’s hard getting your financial services or recruitment app to the top of the category lists, just imagine how developers in the gaming/entertainment sector must feel.

If App Store Optimization (ASO) is your only strategy for greater app engagement this holiday season – you might find your “winning” app struggles to find an audience.

Pre-Loading – A Gift for App Developers

This is where a strategy like pre-loading comes into its own.

Digital Turbine works with global smartphone manufacturers (OEMs) and mobile networks to help app developers position their apps on targeted devices.

A pre-loaded app is presented to the user and the moment of maximum device engagement – the moment of unboxing. Essentially, if your app finds its way on to a device that finds its way under a Christmas tree this holiday season – your app becomes part of the gifting experience. As such, it stands a far greater chance of engagement than any app left behind in an app store.

Just like the steaming hot Christmas pudding on your festive dining table – the proof is in the eating (or engagement when it comes to an app). Unless people actually try your app – they will never know if they like it or not – so it’s in your best interests to make it as accessible as possible.

To learn how Digital Turbine can help your audience connect with your app during the holidays, talk to one of our pre-loading experts today.

Marissa Camilli
By Marissa Camilli
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