The iTunes App Store saw a big drop-off in iPhone app downloads last month coming off a record-breaking holiday season, dropping nearly two million downloads month-to-month.
As GigaOM reports, marketing research firm Fiksu marked a 30 percent decline in U.S. iPhone app downloads from February to March, indicating perhaps that the novelty of new iPhones received by many users during the 2011 holiday season is wearing off. App downloads dropped from 6.35 million in February to 4.45 million in March, the numbers show, the lowest level the App Store has hit since September.
Fiksu monitors daily downloads for the top 200 free iPhone apps in the iTunes App Store. The firm found that downloads started to hike up after the release of the iPhone 4S back in October, and increased to their height in January of 6.75 million downloads per month. That number declined slightly into February, but then dropped sharply in March by nearly two million downloads. However, the firm isn’t keeping track of international downloads, so just how the App Store is faring in all countries – including those with cultures that don’t include a winter holiday season – isn’t clear from the data.
The download drop-off in March was expected, Fiksu said, given that there weren’t really any events, like holidays or the launch of a new iPhone, to drive new discovery of iPhone apps during the month. However, Apple also recently changed its App Store policies to ban firms from using robots to download free apps to drive up their rankings, which the firm says may also have contributed to the fall off in downloads.
While downloads are down for iPhone apps, however, the number of people using them hasn’t died down, Fiksu reports. It also tracks a metric called Cost Per Loyal User, which determines how much developers are spending on marketing their apps to create loyal users, which are users who open up their apps three times in a month. Fiksu found that that cost dropped to about $1.14 per user in January, and leveled off at around $1.30 per user in February and March. That number is lower than what developers were spending before the holidays last year, which suggests that more users are making use of their apps even if they’re not out downloading more of them.
Still, even though U.S. downloads are down, Apple’s App Store is still seeing some huge numbers. The company recently reported it had surpassed 600,000 apps available in its market, and noted it had made $1.92 billion in revenue from selling content in iTunes in its second quarter of 2012.