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Chart of the Week: Mobile App Downloads Stall

By Ryan Brady | November 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

MarketingDigital Marketing Strategy and Execution

Let’s talk about brand mobile apps real quick. 

When’s the last time you downloaded a brand’s mobile app? Why did you download it? How many of these things do you have on your phone? 

For this week’s chart of the week, we analyzed 1,167 apps from 706 brands and looked at app downloads (see Figure 1). You’ll notice the steady rise in downloads since 2018, peaking during the height of pandemic-induced lockdowns. Since then, we’re finding that people just aren’t downloading brand mobile apps like they used to. 

Figure 1. iOS App Downloads per Quarter
Chart of the Week: Mobile App Downloads Stall

What’s happening here? There are a few potential reasons for the slowdown in growth:

  • App consolidation. Not long ago, the trend among many brands was to create as many apps for as many purposes as possible. This sort of “app hysteria” created lots of redundant, and frankly odd, apps. We’re finding many brands have since consolidated resources to focus on just one or two customer-facing apps. Because, as it turns out, mobile apps are actually a lot of work and maintenance is resource intensive.
  • Consumers’ desire to declutter. According to Gartner’s annual Consumer Values and Lifestyle Survey, “Simplicity” has steadily risen since 2014 as a value consumers seek out in their lives. This shows us that consumers are searching for opportunities to simplify their lives and reduce their mental load now more than ever. So perhaps consumers may feel greater apprehension when deciding whether or not to download yet another mobile app.
  • Smartphone hard drive space. A final possible reason for this plateau in growth may be that smartphone drive space is becoming so generous that there’s less of a need to uninstall apps after users are done with them. Consumers may simply keep more apps on their phone instead of download→uninstall→redownload apps when needed. I used to do this all the time with airline apps on my old phone. Now, I simply keep them all in a folder on my phone, rather than uninstall them after my trip (thank you Galaxy S8). 

As a marketer, how can you help spur app downloads for your own brand? 

Consider promoting your app across app stores and other digital and physical channels, such as targeted social media ads and product packaging. At the very least, promote your brand’s app on your brand-owned mobile homepage. Because as it turns out, doing so pays dividends for app downloads. When we looked at retail banking brands between July 2020 – September 2021, we found that brands that promoted their mobile app on their mobile homepage had over 9 times more app downloads than brands that didn’t.

For more ideas, sign up for Kyle Rees’ and my upcoming cross-sector Mobile Marketing Channel Benchmark Webinar.

Thanks for reading and, until next time, be well.


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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