What Apps Are Removed From The App Store?
Written by Lucy Black   
Wednesday, 20 January 2021

A new study throws a lot of light on a mysterious subject - what apps are removed from the iOS App Store? The first big surprise is how many apps were removed. Guess how many were removed in the recent 1.5 years? Go on guess!

Fuqi Lin of Peking University estimates that in the 1.5  years to April 2020 over 1 million apps were removed from the iOS app market! That is a lot of wasted coding! How was this figure arrived at? The answer is that a snapshot of the apps in the App Store was taken on a regular basis and apps that vanished were assumed to have been forcibly removed - which is more likely then their originator removing them.


If this seems like a lot of wasted coding, some programmers seem to specialize in apps that get removed. It is estimated that 73% of developers that have an app removed have all of their apps removed! There is clearly an incentive to get your app into the store for even a short period of time before it is removed.

So what, you say, they are just removing the dross that no-one would ever consider downloading, but this isn't quite true. Although the majority of removed apps are low quality, some 5% are popular apps with a high rank in the App Store and a considerable number of user ratings. You can see a breakdown of the categories the removed popular apps fell into below:


What is it with weather apps?! Predictably most of the removed apps were in the free category, but about 25% of paid-for apps were removed, more than you might expect. To quote:

"For example, some paid gaming apps (e.g., Supreme Glory - Eternal Blood, Sword in the Air and Sword Dynasty) are quite popular even rank top-10 before removal. However, they were found to exaggerate their functional descriptions and post fake positive reviews to entice users to download them for revenue. It suggests that the low-quality and potentially harmful apps have caused serious impact to unsuspecting users."

Given that some apps seem to be almost designed to be removed, it should come as no surprise that the apps that were removed can be predicted with an 80% accuracy using only their metadata. If you want the fine detail it's all in the paper, freely available on arxiv.

So what does it all mean?

"First, it shows the ineffectiveness of market regulation of iOS app store. A number of apps with mis-behaviors were found in the market and then were removed, which usually takes a rather long time."

The paper contains some suggestions for doing the job better. but overall what I think is that the App Store presents a target for developers who are really only interested in creating a sort of software spam. Not only is the App Store restrictive and monopolistic, we can now add ineffective to the list.


More Information

Demystifying Removed Apps in iOS App Store

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 January 2021 )