A couple days ago, the latest issue of This Week in Apps (a newsletter from Ariel Michaeli at AppFigures, and one of my favorite weekly reads) published data that appears to show Apple purging over 420,000 apps from the App Store...right as AppTrackingTransparency went into broad effect with the launch of iOS 14.6 in June.

The hypothesis is that this was a massive, ATT-related enforcement crackdown by Apple.

While the timing is certainly coincidental, I'm skeptical about this explanation for a couple of reasons:

  1. Apple has a precedent of mass-purging 'dead apps' from the App Store in the past.
  2. There's a fairly broad consensus that Apple hasn't actually done any ATT policy enforcement to date — in fact, the only ATT-related enforcement noise happened at the end of April, not the middle of June, and was related to situations where developer-provided info in Privacy Nutrition Labels didn't match up with an app's implementation of the ATT permission modal.

Granted, most of the apps in question here would have been the longest of the long tail, but the ATT rollout was one of the most closely-watched App Store developments in years. It's implausible that almost half a million of them could simply vanish because of 'ATT violations' without chatter surfacing somewhere.

In my opinion, it's much more likely that Apple simply decided it was time to clean up abandoned apps again, and they felt this was a good opportunity.

In any case, it's water under the bridge at this point. Let's dig into some more recent news!

Alex Bauer

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