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How many people are downloading Apple Vision Pro apps? (Analysis)

Insights into the performance of Apple Vision Pro apps, shortly after the headset's launch.

When the Apple Vision Pro launched on 2 February 2024, a deluge of new apps entered the App Store. Apple announced that more than 600 have been made for the headset, ranging from productivity tools to games. At the time of writing, apps have been out for about a week. So how well have they been performing in the initial jump of sales? 

I spoke to a few developers who built apps for visionOS, and explored why some performed well while others hoped for higher downloads. Though some declined to share numbers, many were incredibly transparent with their successes and growth opportunities. What I found was that developers are operating in a difficult scenario where the App Store isn't developed enough to help with discoverability. Fixing this will help developers reach new users. 

Executive summary 

  • Not too early to investigate: I believe that early signals may compound in the future, so it's worth exploring the strengths and weaknesses of launch-day applications. 

  • The App Store needs work: Weak discovery and search functionalities dampen the potential success of potential apps, a near-universal complaint among developers. 

  • Success is measured in the thousands: JigSpace saw 14,000 installs as of 8 February, while the top paid news app receives 300+ installs per day. These are great numbers for a headset that has just launched, and give an early indication of what people may wish to download. 

  • Social media promotion: Promoting apps across Discord, Reddit, and TikTok gives transient success, but perhaps not enough for consistent gains over the long run. 

Is it too early to judge the success of Apple’s headset? 

But first, is it too soon to look now? A representative of Kluge Interactive believes so, arguing that the install base is still growing at this point. The company is not the only one; the Apple Vision Pro is being sold in the US at $3,500, which is not exactly accessible to a global audience. Apple has not announced the number of headsets sold, though we know it is measured in the hundreds of thousands rather than millions. The total addressable market (TAM) is not high when compared to the ecosystems run by Steam or Meta. 

One more nuance to this is that many developers would have only just received the headset and are tinkering with it. The developers who launched on 2 February were either lucky enough to receive development resources beforehand, or made an app without testing it on the hardware. This is fair, and we should see more apps released over the next few months. 

That said, I still think it’s important to take a dive. Download numbers give an indication of where the attention flows in the App Store, which may give an early view of the types of apps that may perform well in the long run. Early successes may show potential success stories in the long run. Additionally, low download rates may point towards weaknesses in the App Store which could be rectified to help developers reach new users – which we will discuss in a bit.

We are looking at an early stage of the App Store’s development, and it does feel like critiquing a child before it learns how to walk. I do not wish for this to be the stage where we make an absolute confirmation of its success or failure – that is not my goal. But that child hopes to take large strides as a bustling marketplace of the spatial future, so it’s important to keep an eye on its health for now. 

Sort your real estate. Photo credit: Modwell.

Sort your real estate. Photo credit: Modwell.

What are the areas of improvement for the App Store? 

Based on canvassing the virtual field, many developers have struggled to raise download numbers – with 1000 as a ceiling of sorts at this early stage. Zenitizer received 600 downloads as of 11 February, with other developers anonymously detailing how they reached the hundreds rather than thousands — though some were lower. Hold On, which adds spherical timers, had six downloads as of 8 February. While not high, developer Matt Kandler is optimistic about its growth: “Even a few downloads show that people are interested in the concept, and I definitely plan to keep developing the app - particularly working on some fully immersive experiences next.” (Some of these appeared in a list I compiled of interesting apps to try out).

It is also clear that certain types of promotion work better than others. Michael Temper’s apps were promoted in a popular TechCrunch article that outlines the best new Apple Vision Pro apps to try out. The article also performs well on SEO; if someone googles for Apple Vision Pro apps to try out, then the article rises near the top. But despite the high visibility with a good chunk of potential headset users, he found that no one downloaded the featured app, Ploppy Pairs. Mr Tempter will switch one of the apps to a Freemium version to see if an up-front fee is an issue. 

Why are developers struggling to get seen by new users? Most cite discoverability as an issue, as it is difficult for users to find the right apps on the headset. The search function should be better, and the top ten lists for popular downloads should be clearer to find on the storefront. The appetite to search may be lacking, too. Dedicated users like Tom Emrich, the director of product at Niantic, suspect that users had mostly played with the out-of-the-box content for the first few days of launch. 

Analytics is a problem too as, initially, there was a technical issue with tracking success. Many developers relied on App Store Connect for analytics, but it had not been properly geared for the Apple Vision Pro launch and suffered from a few technical outages. Other developers had workarounds and managed to gather analytics on the performance of their releases. Of those, the majority of developers had fewer downloads overall; and even then, tools lack transparency. Another app, CamPlan, received 600+ downloads as of 8 February – but the developer is unsure how it happened.

Still, there is hope in the community. One developer anonymously told me that they are playing the long game, even though their app received fewer downloads than expected on the launch day. That long-game plan is a common sentiment among most developers I spoke to. 

Mirror your iPhone on the Apple Vision Pro. Photo credit: Bezel.

Mirror your iPhone on the Apple Vision Pro. Photo credit: Bezel.

Which Apple Vision Pro apps performed well, and why? 

Unsurprisingly, apps heavily promoted by Apple have performed very well. But what’s interesting is that the scale of the success is many, many times higher than other apps. 

For example, JigSpace was a big part of Apple’s press materials and promotion cycle, and it received 14,000 installs between 2 and 8 February. Its CEO, Zac Druff, commented that its features on the App Store were incredibly powerful, similar to the early days of iOS. He also recommends embracing the medium by going spatial, and also ensuring it is a solid app: “You need either lots of content or to 10x existing apps, processes or productivity. Just being there isn't enough, you have to have a reason to keep coming back. You have to reach that magical threshold where behaviour changes.” 

I wanted to better understand the power of being featured by Apple, so I approached other similarly featured apps for comment. Unfortunately, I received either no responses or declines. Linked to this, the CEO of TRIPP stated that their app had a lot of downloads already even though the app was not featured – which was interesting to hear. Yet when I approached the team for supporting information, they were unable to disclose the number of downloads at this time. Still, JigSpace provides a useful ballpark on the power of being featured on the front page.

If you are not featured by the App Store – which will be the case for 99.9% of users – then owning a niche helps. Michael Sayman created the top paid News app for the Apple Vision Pro, News Ticker, and receives 300+ downloads a day. A hugely respectable number at such an early stage of the Apple Vision Pro’s lifespan, but it is remarkable to see the drop from an app that was more heavily featured by the App Store. 

Why was it so successful? Mr Sayman argued that the Apple Vision Pro has a strong focus on content consumption, such as TV shows and movies, as well as users not wishing to move their heads around: “In iOS, you can swipe between your apps. In visionOS, you have to move your head around to view your apps. Making a News app that doesn’t require the user to move their head while they’re working on other things or consuming some other content allows them to multitask in the visionOS spatial world without having to move their head around a lot. I think there’s lots to learn from this format and the traction it’s getting.”

Another breakout hit was Juno, a YouTube app. Christian Selig, its creator, commented that “downloads have been phenomenal, far surpassing expectations.” He declined to share hard numbers, but it does provide a clear use case for clearing a self-evident gap within the launch of the Apple Vision Pro. (YouTube has since confirmed that a dedicated app is on the roadmap). Finding the right gaps in the market helps with success, though identifying them can take time. 

Using social media helped, too. Sergio Abril launched Nuits, and found that longer threads on X helped to garner attention for his new product. Another developer who made a simple balloon game promoted across social channels like Reddit, TikTok, and others, and saw some attention. Both received 300+ downloads as of 6 February – stronger than many other devs, but lack the consistency of other apps on the store. 

Great product design choices helped some developers to penetrate the market at an early stage. When the firing cannon shot skywards, select developers designed their apps to address specific wants and needs. But the starting line is not straight. Select apps have clearly seen preferential treatment and garnered an early start in the spatial race, a few meters ahead of the competition. This is not bad in itself; it is Apple’s prerogative to profile the very best apps that the Apple Vision Pro can offer. However, the preferential treatment means most other developers need to be more tactical to garner success. 

The future of apps on the Apple Vision Pro store

We will have a better understanding of the Apple Vision Pro’s successes in the next few months. More developers will be able to buy the headset, develop their apps, and launch on a platform that will steadily get more users throughout the year. Promotional activities are small for some; Spatially received 40 downloads in less than a week by simply letting their already-established audience know about it. It is also early days for tactics; Halfbrick, who made Super Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride 2 for the headset, said that they focused on the heart of the franchises when marketing the titles. I expect marketing pushes to ramp up through 2024. 

I quietly suspect that subscription services on the platform would do well. Swandive, which provides immersive experiences, said that they received “hundreds” of subscriptions as of 7 February. This falls in line with my previous analysis of customer lifetime value. Current buyers of the Apple Vision Pro are wealthy enough to afford paid apps in exchange for premium services.

But early signals show that the App Store itself needs some work. Adding top charts and better search functionalities would help developers make more niche apps for particular use cases. Additionally, Mr Sayman argued that browsing categories would help too, similar to the iOS store. If Apple wants the App Store to see the same success as its iOS variant, it needs to have the same types of features and support mechanisms.

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