Whether you are a new or veteran Pandora owner, you are all familiar with the repository (also known as the repo) available on the openpandora.org site. Recently, milkshake, who is in charge of the repo management, released some figures related to the repo usage since 2011. The results are interesting.
Let’s cut through the blah-blah and go straight to the facts. The repo usage is increasing over time, even though it is lower for particular months. You get three graphs for the price of one. The first one shows the number of repo downloads over time, in months. The second one the overall volume downloaded from the repo over time, in months. Note that that second one is not super reliable since it considers the final size of all software in the repo for the calculation of the volume exchanged: it does not keep historical filesizes. The third one is a cumulative graph showing the total number of downloads over time.
Since the second chart in red is probably biased, I will make a couple of comments on the first and third chart in terms of downloads.
- First, it’s not like we see a constant progression of the downloads. There is clearly a plateau effect between April 2012 to November 12, where the actual number remains very much stable.
- Then, from November onwards, there is a sudden increase, reaching a peak in January, remaining stable in February, and an even larger peak in March, followed by a strong month of April, higher than both January and February.
- From the third graph, you see that the pace of downloads is accelerating from early 2013 onwards. Actually, more than 30% of the total repo downloads since end 2011 are from the first months of 2013 alone! Pretty impressive when you think about it.
- Not sure what May will be like, but it might be lower than April if we trust the first 15 days of data.
So, what’s happening here? And, more specifically, what are the drivers for more activity ?
- More Pandora users? Well, technically, yes, there are more and more of them, and it’s likely than every one of them impacts the repo downloads big time, since they may be downloading all their apps at once versus a regular user who only downloads a few apps every month. But unless I am mistaken, we do not believe there is a spike in terms of sales, at least nothing that should warrant should a sudden increase.
- More Popular apps? Probably the strongest driver here. DraStic by itself has been responsible for several thousands of downloads, and may well be at the origin of a few spikes. Many other high profile apps were released during the DragonBox compo that was running earlier this year, so there seems to be a correlation here.
- More updates? Not only new apps make for new downloads. PNDManager makes is a breeze to update existing PNDs, and these are counted as downloads as well. So, if a few popular apps are updated at the same time, you would very likely get a spike in downloads. Like what, oh my God, you know, PCSXReARMed was updated in January, and this means thousands of people re-downloaded it, and January is a very strong month. PCSXReARMed being the number 1 application on Pandora, it’s very likely that single update is responsible for a strong showing in January. Firefox, updated in January and March. Second most downloaded application. Two strong months. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Of course, it does not account for everything, but they probably add up to the rest quite significantly.
- New apps? Not really… many apps are poorly advertised by their authors or packagers, and you can see it the low amount of downloads they get. Having 50 poorly advertised apps is not driving downloads very much, no sir.
- More press? March was the strongest month ever. Is there any relationship with… the launch of PandoraLive in March? !!!! BIAS ALERT !!!! Let’s not pretend that PandoraLive’s importance is huge on the Pandora scene, but several users have been reporting that it made it easy to follow the repo news and further increased the awareness of some applications. It probably counts for something, since there are several thousands of unique visitors per month. If even only half of them download an app because it’s mentioned on PandoraLive, this could account for quite a difference in the repo downloads. We’ll need to do a survey on this one day.
So there you have it. Facts, and some suppositions. It sounds like a good detective story. Most likely there is no single
culprit driver for this activity increase. My intuition tells me that in the order of importance… 1) Updates of popular apps, 2) popular apps, 3) more exposure, 4) new apps and 5) new users make a difference.
Why are popular apps behind updates, you ask? Well, even something as amazing as DraStic only gets about 300-400 active users over several updates (leading to 1700 downloads over several iterations). It is probably safe to assume that there are more active users of PCSXReARMed and Firefox, especially since DraStic has yet to progress in terms of emulation speed.
This being said, let’s not say this is smoke without fire. There IS stronger activity on the repo, and as I have shown it a couple of months ago, the pace of apps release is indeed accelerating. It’s all good.
One of these days I will write a piece about basic marketing techniques on how to advertise your new shiny application like a chief. Because, seriously, if you are a developer and spend so much time making a PND, why not spend a couple more hours making people interested in it?
Till next time, and happy downloading on the repo! Comments are welcome, as always.