Russia’s App Store has lost nearly 7,000 apps since invading Ukraine, but some Big Tech apps remain – TechCrunch
Russia’s App Store has lost 6,982 mobile apps since the Ukraine invasion began, as many companies have now pulled their apps and games from Apple’s iPhone and iPad App Stores in the country, according to data shared with TechCrunch by app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. .
To date, these apps have been downloaded around 218 million times in Russia, which is just over 3% of their 6.6 billion lifetime installs worldwide. Amid the widespread releases, apps from several Big Tech companies continue to rank highly on the Russian App Store, although the Top Charts are currently filled with VPN apps.
While Apple regularly removes obsolete and discontinued apps from its App Store, app removals from the Russian App Store after the invasion (February 24 to March 14) represent a 105% increase in the number of apps removed from the store compared to the first two weeks. February 2022 (from February 1 to 14). During this prior period, the Russian App Store only saw 3,404 app removals, a figure matching the number of apps pulled from Apple’s App Stores in other markets, including the United States. United, where 3,422 apps were removed. These pre-invasion app removals were likely related to Apple’s ongoing cleanup efforts, Sensor Tower noted.
Russia is not the only country affected in this way. Many publishers have also removed their apps and games from the App Store in Belarus, Russia’s neighbor and ally. This country has now recorded a loss of 5,900 apps since the start of the invasion, a figure that has increased by 73% compared to the 3,418 apps deleted from February 1 to 14.
In comparison, other app markets have seen smaller increases in app removals, possibly also related to Apple’s App Store maintenance efforts.
Following Russia’s decision to wage war on Ukraine, the country was cut off from the global economy as the United States and its allies coordinated to enact sweeping economic sanctions. Major companies have also stopped doing business in Russia, including some of the world’s best-known brands, such as McDonald’s, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, IKEA, H&M, Adidas and Starbucks, as well as payment giants Visa, Mastercard and Amex, among others. .
In some cases, removals from the Russian App Store are related to these big brand releases. For example, Coca-Cola pulled its loyalty and rewards-focused iOS app from the Russian App Store, as the company recently promised to suspend operations in Russia. Retailers like H&M and American Eagle Outfitters have also pulled apps, along with Ebates’ ShopStyle shopping platform.
In sports, NFL, NBA, WWE and Eurosport apps disappeared from the Russian App Store following the invasion. Health apps from MyFitnessPal, Kaiser Permanente, and many smaller fitness, meditation, and yoga apps are also gone. Of these, MyFitnessPal was quite popular in Russia, having seen some 4.2 million installs to date, including those on iOS and Android.
Mobile gaming giants leave Russia
Games are the biggest category to see moves in Russia and represent huge departures. The Russian App Store has lost a number of major games from publishers such as Zynga, Supercell, Take-Two (Rockstar Games) and others, many of which have publicly announced their release.
For example, Supercell tweeted on March 9 that in response to the ongoing war, “new downloads are being discontinued and access for existing players will be suspended“ with the next update. The company’s games that were pulled from the App Store in Russia included Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Hay Day. These are significant releases – Clash of Clans alone has seen 36 million installs on iOS and Android so far in Russia, for example.
Rockstar Games has pulled over half a dozen titles from its Grand Theft Auto series, among others. Its parent company, Take-Two, announced its intention to leave Russia on March 7, noting that it had watched events unfold in Ukraine with “concern and sadness”. He said he would stop new sales, installations and marketing in Russia and Belarus.
Zynga, meanwhile, said on March 8 that it was following events in Ukraine with “great concern” and would leave Russia and Belarus and donate to humanitarian organizations. The publisher has now removed dozens of its casual games from these countries’ app stores, including many larger titles like Farmville 3, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Empires & Puzzles, Solitaire, Zynga Poker and others from its acquisition in 2020, Rollic Games. .
Netflix also kept its promise to leave Russia with the removal of its streaming app in the country. Dating apps Bumble and Badoo are also gone. Bumble (Badoo’s parent company) said during its fourth quarter 2021 results on March 8 that it would exit the two app stores in Russia and Belarus. Combined revenue from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus accounted for about 2.8% of Bumble’s total annual revenue in 2021, the company added.
Other notable removals from the Russian App Store include Amazon’s IMDb, travel app Trivago, The Weather Channel (IBM), Playtika and big fish games (Games), Hily’s dating app, Citizen, DAZN Sports Live Stream, AllTrails and Google Home. (AllTrails has yet to issue a public statement, but told TechCrunch it now has “indefinitely suspended” services in Russia. “We stand with the people of Ukraine and refuse to side with Russia as they are waging this tragic war,” the company said.)
In terms of removal by categories, the app types that have seen the highest number of removals from the Russian App Store include Games, Productivity, Utilities, Music, Business, Education and health. For reference, more than 860 games have been removed from the affected App Stores, including those from Russia, Belarus and, to some extent, Ukraine. (Only a handful were fired in the latter, though.)
Apps from tech giants still top the charts
However, not all tech giants have completely left the Russian App Store just yet.
Microsoft announced on March 4 that it was halting all new sales of products and services in Russia and has since removed apps like Solitaire, Majong, Wordament and, notably, Minecraft from the Russian App Store. But Microsoft’s Word, Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Teams and Outlook rankings still top productivity charts in Russia, according to data from Sensor Tower.
Microsoft is not alone. Google has taken several actions against Russia, including suspending its advertising activities in the country, but its productivity apps are still available in Russia. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Assistant, Calendar, Drive, One, and Keep, for example, currently rank high in the Top Productivity app rankings.
Adobe also pledged to leave Russia, saying on March 4 that it would “stop all new sales” of Adobe products and services in Russia, “effective immediately.” He also said he would end access to Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud for all Russian state media and pledged money for refugees and humanitarian aid.
In the days that followed, Adobe removed some of its apps from the Russian App Store, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but others remain available for download, at the time of writing, including a leading business app, Adobe Reader. Its iOS app is currently at No. 15 in the top business apps.
Microsoft, Google and Adobe have not yet responded to requests for comment.
Social apps still highly ranked, despite blockages
Currently, Russia’s Top Chart for its overall App Store shows apps that no longer work or have heavily restricted content.
On Monday, Instagram was blocked in Russia, impacting 80 million users. But the app still ranks 34th globally in the country today, as it has not been removed from the App Store. (This means that users can still download the app, but cannot access the service, except possibly through a VPN). Russia also restricted other social media, including Facebook and Twitter, while TikTok suspended users’ ability to live stream and post new content in Russia and blocked all non-Russian content.
But TikTok still ranks well, as the 18th overall app on the Russian App Store, followed by YouTube at 27th. YouTube, like other platforms, banned Russian state media and suspended advertising and payments.
But VPNs Dominate Russian App Store Top Rankings
The downgrading of these social apps can only be partly attributed to bans and restrictions. Another factor is VPN apps, which now dominate the Top Charts.
The top 10 VPN apps collectively reached 4.2 million installs from Feb. 24 to March 13, up 2,286% from the previous period, when the top 10 apps reached around 176,000 installs, data shows. by SensorTower. The firm noted that it has also seen apps like 126.96.36.199 and Cloudflare’s Psiphon appear in the Top 10, although the app dubbed 188.8.131.52 isn’t just a VPN; it advertises privacy and security, which probably appeals to Russian users right now.