The Russian App Store has lost 6,982 mobile apps since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, as numerous companies have now pulled their apps and games from Apple’s iPhone and iPad App Stores in the country, according to data shared with TechCrunch by app- intelligence company Sensor Tower.

To date, those apps had been downloaded about 218 million times in Russia, representing just over 3% of their total 6.6 billion worldwide lifetime installs. Amid the widespread exits, the apps of several Big Tech companies continue to rank highly in the Russian App Store, although the top lists are currently filled with VPN apps.

While Apple routinely removes outdated and abandoned apps from the App Store, the removals of Russia’s App Store apps after the invasion (February 24 to March 14) represent a 105% increase in the number of apps removed from the store in comparison. with the first two weeks of February 2022 (1 to 14 February). In that earlier period, the Russian App Store had seen just 3,404 app removals — a figure in line with the number of apps pulled from Apple’s App Stores in other markets, including the US, where 3,422 apps were removed. These pre-invasion app takedowns were likely related to Apple’s ongoing cleanup efforts, Sensor Tower noted.

Russia is not the only country affected in this way. Many publishers also removed their apps and games from the App Store in Belarus, Russia’s neighbor and ally. That country has now lost 5,900 apps since the start of the invasion — a figure that is up 73% compared to the 3,418 apps that were removed from Feb. 1-14.

By comparison, other app markets had seen a smaller increase in app removals, perhaps also related to Apple’s App Store maintenance efforts.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

As a result of Russia’s decision to go to war against Ukraine, the country has been cut off from the global economy as the US and its allies imposed coordinated broad-based economic sanctions. Major companies have also stopped doing business in Russia, including some of the world’s best-known brands, such as McDonald’s, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, IKEA, H&M, Adidas and Starbucks, as well as payment giants Visa, Mastercard and Amex, among others.

In some cases, the Russian App Store takedowns are related to those big brand exits. For example, Coca-Cola pulled its Loyalty and Rewards iOS app from the Russian App Store because the company recently pledged to suspend its operations in Russia. Retailers such as H&M and American Eagle Outfitters also pulled apps, along with Ebates’ shopping platform ShopStyle.

In sports, apps from the NFL, NBA, WWE and Eurosport have disappeared from the Russian App Store after the invasion. Also gone are health apps from MyFitnessPal, Kaiser Permanente, and numerous smaller fitness, meditation and yoga apps. Of these, MyFitnessPal has been quite popular in Russia, with some 4.2 million installs to date, including those for both iOS and Android.

Mobile gaming giants leave Russia

Games are the largest category of takedowns in Russia and represent some huge departures. The Russian App Store has lost a number of top games to publishers, including Zynga, Supercell, Take-Two (Rockstar Games) and others – many of which have publicly announced they are shutting down.

In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Supercell has removed its games from its app stores in Russia and Belarus. New downloads will be stopped and access for existing players will be suspended on subsequent client updates.

— Supercell (@supercell) March 9, 2022

For instance, Supercell tweeted on March 9th that, in response to the ongoing war, “new downloads will be discontinued and access for existing players suspended” with the next update. The company’s games pulled from the App Store in Russia included Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Hay Day. These are significant exits – Clash of Clans alone has seen 36 million installs on both iOS and Android in Russia so far, for example.

Rockstar Games pulled more than half a dozen titles from the Grand Theft Auto series, among other things. Its parent company, Take-Two, had announced its intention to leave Russia on March 7, noting that it had followed events in Ukraine with “concern and sadness”. It said it would stop new sales, installations and marketing in both Russia and Belarus.

Meanwhile, on March 8, Zynga said it has been monitoring events in Ukraine with “great concern” and would leave Russia and Belarus and donate to aid organizations. The publisher has now pulled dozens of its casual games from the App Stores of those countries, including much larger titles such as Farmville 3, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Empires & Puzzles, Solitaire, Zynga Poker and others from its acquisition of Rollic Games in 2020. .

Netflix has also fulfilled its promise to leave Russia with the removal of its streaming app in the country. Dating apps Bumble and Badoo have also disappeared. Bumble (the parent of Badoo) said during its fourth quarter 2021 results on March 8 that it would exit both app stores in Russia and Belarus. Combined sales from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were about 2.8% of Bumble’s total annual sales in 2021, the company added.

Other notable takedowns from the Russian App Store include Amazon’s IMDb, travel app Trivago, The Weather Channel (IBM), Playtika, and Big Fishing Games (spell), Hily’s dating app, Citizen, DAZN sports live streaming, AllTrails and Google Home. (AllTrails had not yet issued a public statement, but told TechCrunch it has now indefinitely suspended services in Russia. We stand behind the people of Ukraine and refuse to deal with Russia as they wage this tragic war,” the company said.)

As for removals by category, the types of apps that have seen the highest number of removals from the Russian App Store include those in Games, Productivity, Utilities, Music, Business, Education, and Health. For reference, more than 860 games have been removed from the affected App Stores, including those in Russia, Belarus and, to some extent, Ukraine. (Only a handful were drawn into the latter, however.)

Apps from tech giants are still at the top of the charts

At the moment, however, not all tech giants have completely abandoned the Russian App Store.

Microsoft announced on March 4 that it was ceasing all new sales of products and services in Russia and has since pulled apps such as Solitaire, Majong, Wordament, and most notably Minecraft from the Russian App Store. But still at the top of the productivity charts in Russia are Microsoft’s Word, Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Teams and Outlook, per Sensor Tower data.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower. The Russian App Store’s top lists for productivity apps on March 15, 2022.

Microsoft is not alone. Google has taken several actions against Russia, including suspending its advertising activities in the country, but its productivity apps are still available in Russia. Currently, Google’s Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, Assistant, Calendar, Drive, One, and Keep are high on the list of Top Productivity Apps.

Adobe also pledged to leave Russia, saying on March 4 that it would stop “effective immediately all new sales” of Adobe products and services in Russia. It also said it would end access to Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud for all Russian state media and pledged funds for refugee and humanitarian aid.

In the days since, Adobe pulled some of its apps from the Russian App Store, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but others remain available for download as of writing, including a highly regarded business app, Adobe Reader. The iOS app is currently at No. 15 at the top of the business apps chart.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower – Adobe Reader in Russia on March 15

Microsoft, Google and Adobe have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Social apps still score high, despite blockages

At the moment, the Russian top list for the overall App Store points to apps that no longer work or where the content is severely limited.

On Monday, Instagram was blocked in Russia, affecting 80 million users. But the app is still ranked number 34 in the country today as it hasn’t actually been removed from the App Store. (That means users can still download the app, but won’t be able to access the service, except perhaps through a VPN). Russia has also restricted other social media, including Facebook and Twitter, while TikTok has suspended the ability for users to livestream and post new content in Russia and has blocked all non-Russian content.

But TikTok still ranks well, as the number 18 overall app in the Russian App Store, followed by YouTube at number 27. YouTube, like other platforms, has banned Russian state media and interrupted ads and payments.

But VPNs dominate the top lists of the Russian App Store

The downgrading of these social apps can only be partially attributed to the bans and restrictions. Another factor is the VPN apps, which now dominate the top lists.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

The top 10 VPN apps collectively reached 4.2 million installs from Feb. 24 through March 13, up 2,286% from the prior period, when the top 10 apps reached approximately 176,000 installs, data from Sensor Tower. The company noted that it also saw apps like Cloudflare’s and Psiphon appear in the Top 10, although the app named isn’t just a VPN; it advertises privacy and security, which are likely to appeal to Russian users at this point.

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