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The anatomy of successful apps

With more than three billion smartphone users globally, four out of ten people are carrying a smartphone in their pocket, making your Apple and Android devices modern necessities. From shopping to banking to sharing pictures of your cat, the rise of smartphone ownership has contributed to a thriving marketplace of smartphone apps making them ubiquitous in our daily life.
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The anatomy of successful apps by money.co.uk (graphic)

However, with over 5 million apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, it can be challenging for new apps to break through the noise and build a user base.

Therefore, our mobiles experts have conducted a study to reveal the “anatomy” of successful apps, analysing key factors such as the number of reviews, price and average ratings from the top 7,200 apps in the app store to find out what it takes to make a successful app.

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The anatomy of a successful mobile app - results:

Our study shows that new apps need at least 12,000+ reviews and cost less than $2.32 to make it to the top of the app store. By analysing basic technical information, we have discovered that the most successful apps support an average of 37 of devices and cater to at least 7 different languages.


The data also shows that the ‘perfect app profile’ should use a maximum of 5 words in the title, 267 words in the description and a minimum of 3 images.

When it comes to user satisfaction, Productivity and Music apps come out on top with the best average ratings (4.0). But when it comes to spending money, we spend the most on Medical and Business apps with an average price of $8.78 and $5.12 respectively.

Updated 27 October 2020
GenreAverage RatingAverage Price

The anatomy of a successful mobile app - comparison:

If you want to know what it takes to compete in the App Store, try out our new tool. Simply select your app category and fill in your app information.

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We analysed 10 years of App Store listings across 7200 apps in the following 22 categories: Book, Business, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Food & Drink, Games, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Medical, Music, Navigation, News, Photo & Video, Productivity, Reference, Shopping, Social Networking, Sports, Travel, Utilities and Weather.

Using the iTunes API, we analysed the following data points: app rating, number of reviews, cost, file size, version number, number of images in description, supported iOS devices, supported languages, number of words in the title and number of words in the description.

Data points were then averaged and grouped by category to create the comparison tool.

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press such as The Express, Travel Daily, and The Daily Star.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.

About Catherine Hiley

View Catherine Hiley's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.