inessential by Brent Simmons

NetNewsWire Download Numbers

Common wisdom is, I think, that the iOS market is so much larger than the Mac market that an equivalent iOS app would be downloaded five or ten times more than a Mac app.

I kind of accept that wisdom, but I also kind of think the iOS App Store has so many more apps that it may erase that difference. An equivalent iOS app might get downloaded about the same number of times, or even fewer times.

Who knows?

Well, anyone with a Mac and an iOS app has some idea. Like me.

Here’s our situation. NetNewsWire for Mac is direct-download-only, and NetNewsWire for iOS is on the App Store. Both are completely free and have no IAP. NetNewsWire for iOS is, worldwide, a 4.9-star app. Both apps have been reviewed well by places like MacStories.


Downloads for NetNewsWire 5.0.3 for Mac, released Oct. 22, 2019: 32,223

Downloads for NetNewsWire 5.0 for iOS, released March 9, 2020: 26,089

My guess is that the iOS app will surpass the Mac app in downloads in about a week.

But there’s an important thing to remember: the majority of downloads happen in the first couple of days after release.

So I don’t expect the iOS app to be ten or even five times more popular than the Mac app. Maybe twice as popular? It’s early enough that it’s hard to say.

One thing that could really change these numbers is, of course, being featured by Apple. Another thing that could possibly change things, but in the other direction, is if we release the Mac app on the Mac App Store.


Every app is unique, and the situation will be different for each app. But just thinking that the iOS market is so much larger, and your app will do better by that proportion, is probably naive. It’s not nearly as straightforward as that.