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Pixalate releases H1 2021 Delisted Mobile Apps report: 15% of Google and Apple app store apps delisted but may remain installed on consumer devices; Over 25% did not have a privacy policy

Sep 14, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Over 813,000 apps with over 9 billion downloads, 86%+ of which targeted children aged 12 and under, were removed from the Google Play and Apple App Stores in the first half of 2021.

PALO ALTO, Calif. and LONDON, September 14, 2021 -- Pixalate, the market-leading fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform for Connected TV (CTV) and Mobile Advertising, today released the H1 2021 Delisted Apps Report containing insights about mobile apps removed from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The analysis helps developers and advertisers recognize potential threats of privacy and compliance breaches.

Pixalate analyzed more than 5 million mobile apps across the Google and Apple app stores, and found that more than 813,000 — over 15% — were delisted in the first half of 2021. On the Google Play Store, the apps were downloaded over 9 billion prior to delisting, while the delisted Apple App Store apps had over 21 million consumer reviews prior to delisting. The apps’ delisting could be caused by various factors, including an app store policy breach or the developer’s withdrawal.

Of potential concern to advertisers and consumers alike, delisted apps can remain installed on a device even after the app has been removed from the app store. If an app were removed due to an app store policy violation, there is an increased risk to consumer privacy and security, as well as brand safety for advertisers.

Key findings: 

Through analysis of delisted Google Play Store and Apple App Store apps in the first half of 2021, Pixalate found that:

    • Over 813,000 apps were delisted from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in H1 2021; Google had had 9.3 billion downloads and Apple apps had 21.8 million user ratings prior to delisting
    • COPPA risks: 86% (Google) and 89% (Apple) of the delisted apps targeted children aged 12 and under
    • 25% of Google and 59% of Apple delisted apps had no privacy policy detected
    • On Google, 26% of delisted apps from Russia had no privacy policy detected; on Apple, 60% of delisted apps from China had no privacy policy detected
    • 66% of delisted Google apps had at least one “dangerous permission: 27% of had access to GPS coordinates and 19% could access the camera

What’s inside the report

Pixalate’s H1 2021 Delisted Apps Report includes:

  • The scale of delisting apps in both most popular app distribution hubs
  • Country of origin of delisted apps
  • Characteristics of “dangerous permissions” which could be a reason to delist the app from the store
  • Rankings of the most popular delisted apps
  • Developers with the most delisted apps

Download a copy of the H1 2021 Delisted Apps Report here for free. You can also register for our webinar on September 30, 2021, we will review this data — and other data about risk factors in the mobile in-app ecosystem — in greater detail.

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About Pixalate

Pixalate is the market-leading fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform for Connected TV (CTV) and Mobile Advertising. We work 24/7 to guard your reputation and grow your media value. Pixalate offers the only system of coordinated solutions across display, app, video, and OTT/CTV for better detection and elimination of ad fraud. Pixalate is an MRC-accredited service for the detection and filtration of sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) across desktop and mobile web, mobile in-app, and OTT/CTV advertising. www.pixalate.com

Disclaimer

The content of this report reflects Pixalate’s opinions with respect to the factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any data shared is grounded in Pixalate’s proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. Any references to outside sources should not be construed as endorsements. Pixalate’s opinions are just that, opinions, which means that they are neither facts nor guarantees.

It is important to also note that the mere fact that an app has been delisted, receives “dangerous permissions”  (as defined by Google), does not appear to have a published privacy policy or registration address, or is registered in a traditional tax haven country or a country that appears to be receiving heightened scrutiny by, among other governmental bodies, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), does not necessarily mean that such app, or its publisher, is actually exploiting data.

Instead, Pixalate is merely rendering an opinion that these facts may be suggestive of heightened risks to data subjects.

Apps can be delisted for a variety of reasons, and Pixalate is neither asserting nor assigning a reason for any delisting action. Additionally, the initiator of the delisting is not generally publicly-available information, so it is often not possible to know whether the removal was triggered by the app store or the developer.

Pixalate is sharing this data not to impugn the standing or reputation of any entity, person or app, but, instead, to report facts as they pertain to delisted Android and iOS apps.

Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google LLC. “Android robot” by Google LLC is licensed under CC BY 3.0. Apple App Store and the Apple logo are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

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