Comparing App Store Categories


Charles Teague


April 21, 2009

One of the frustrations that I’ve had with the data from the App Store is the difficulty in comparing the various categories of application on the store. The popularity score appears to be related to the category, so you can’t effectively compare applications across categories. This makes it tough to do things like rank categories.

As I was playing around with the data, however, I thought I’d try to rank the categories by creating a score for the category based upon the simply sum of the popularity of the top 25 most popular applications in each category. My theory is simply that even though you can’t compare across categories, you can see what categories are popular based upon the total (or average) of the most popular applications. The results aren’t that surprising— games and entertainment are overwhelmingly more popular than other categories.

But way to go Finance- cracking the top 5!

Genre Top 25 Popularity
Games 12.57416165
Entertainment 10.00990161
Utilities 5.601598622
Finance 4.76452379
Photography 3.976679545
Music 3.936911809
Social Networking 3.791524468
Health and Fitness 3.761630667
Lifestyle 3.74729853
News 3.500520549
Sports 3.416063511
Medical 3.376850336
Reference 2.890492635
Productivity 2.622859642
Travel 2.526778971
Books 1.548586185
Weather 1.472607508
Business 1.275677389
Navigation 1.223784489
Education 0.779896454

Category Concentration

One other category related question that I’ve spent some time thinking about is the concentration of applications in a category- specifically whether some categories are dominated by highly popular applications while others have a larger number of moderately popular applications. To get a sense for this- I used the above ‘Top 25 Popularity’ score and calculated what percentage of a category’s total popularity is accounted for by the top applications. Here are the results:

Genre Concentration
Weather 96%
News 90%
Reference 85%
Travel 84%
Social Networking 83%
Sports 78%
Health and Fitness 75%
Finance 75%
Medical 73%
Navigation 72%
Music 70%
Photography 69%
Lifestyle 65%
Books 64%
Productivity 62%
Business 61%
Utilities 58%
Education 51%
Entertainment 50%
Games 34%

Games and Entertainment are the least concentrated, interestingly- the massive numbers of applications in the category create fragmentation of the popularity. Finance, which as you recall was a top 5 category, is also pretty concentrated- whoever is winning in that category is really winning.


Taking a quick look at the latest App Store data, it looks like pricing has actually stabilized in the ballpark of $2.50.

You can download the CSV and do some analysis for yourself.

In other news, I’m going to appear on a panel for MITX tomorrow. I think registration has closed by now, so you’ll just have to wait with bated breath to hear what deep thoughts are covered…