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Cumulative App Store titles declined for first time in 2017, report says

Apple's gigantic selection of App Store apps contracted for the first time in 2017, with the online storefront shedding 5 percent of its total app count over the year, according to a report from reporting platform Appfigures.

Citing statistics gathered from millions of iOS and Android app listings, Appfigures saw the number of total App Store apps decline from 2.2 million in the beginning of 2017 to 2.1 million at year's end.

By comparison, the Google Play Store's assortment of Android apps grew to a total of 3.6 million over the same period, up 30 percent on the year. The App Store and Google Play have been on similar trajectories since 2014, but that changed in 2017.

The findings were highlighted by TechCrunch on Wednesday.

The reason for the marked drop in App Store numbers is unknown, but Appfigures speculates stricter enforcement of Apple's review guidelines and iOS 11's deprecation of support for 32-bit apps contributed to the decline.

Apple also began to remove abandoned and "problematic" apps from its store in late 2016, a process that might have spilled over into 2017. Announced in a post to its developer portal, the culling was part of Apple's plan to market only "quality apps" to customers.

Seemingly backing up claims of stricter App Store oversight was a 29 percent drop in new app launches. In 2017, iOS developers released 755,000 apps, marking the first decline since the App Store launched in 2008. By contrast, Google Play Store saw the release of 1.5 million Android titles, an increase of 17 percent year over year.

In addition to a decrease in released apps, the report suggests more developers are porting iOS wares to Android than the other way around. Developers translated nearly 17,500 iOS apps to Android in 2017, while only 7,500 went from Android to iOS. Currently, there are about 450,000 apps that are offered on both the App Store and Google Play, approximately 8.5 percent of the whole.

The remainder of the report details app development tools, per-country shipments, developer growth in China and a breakdown of top app categories. Expectedly, games top both App Store and Google Play.