Both members of our favorite mobile duopoly, Google and Apple, recently announced plans to cull outdated apps in their respective app stores. Last month, both companies decided any app that hadn’t been updated in two years would be removed. Early in April, Google announced a two-year cutoff plan that would kick-in in November, and later in the month, Apple started emailing developers, giving them 30 days’ notice to update or be removed. It’s hard to know what culling two-year-old apps will look like, so exactly how many apps are we talking about?
CNET has data from the analyst firm Pixalate, which says the two-year cutoff would remove 869,000 apps from Google Play and around 650,000 from the App Store. That’s about a third of each store’s current total app selection. Those numbers would have Google Play changing from 2.6 million apps to 1.7 million apps and the App Store from 1.95 million apps to 1.3 million.
That Google number is an estimate since Google officially said the cutoff point is two years. Apple has not publicly specified a cutoff point. The company has only personally emailed developers, saying it is removing apps that have “not been updated in a significant amount of time,” but some developers have pegged this date as two years.
Both app store owners have a solid argument for doing this—that old apps are lower quality and more prone to exploits. Many developers say an approach like this will result in collateral damage. Not every two-year-old app is broken. Not every app in the world is a live service that will be updated forever, and a model like that doesn’t work for a free project. Android users will always have sideloading and alternative app stores, but Apple users will lose access to the purged apps.