According to Pixalate’s H1 2021 Delisted Apps Report, 59 percent of Apple delisted apps and 25% of Google delisted apps had no privacy policies found. On Google, 26% of delisted Russian apps had no privacy policies discovered; on Apple, 60% of delisted Chinese applications had no privacy policies found. Furthermore, 66% of Google apps that were delisted had at least one “dangerous permission,” 27% had access to GPS locations, and 19% had access to the camera.
More than 813,000 apps with over 9 billion downloads were removed from the Google Play and Apple App Stores, with 86 percent of them targeting children aged 12 and under. The analysis revealed that customer privacy and security, as well as brand safety for marketers, may be at risk after examining more than five million mobile apps. Delisted apps, for example, can remain installed on a user’s device after they’ve been removed from the app store.
Apps can be delisted for a variety of reasons, ranging from the criminal (e.g., app store policy violations) to the innocuous (e.g., developer withdrawal). The report does not state or assign a reason for the delisting. Furthermore, because the originator of the delisting is usually not public information, it’s difficult to tell whether the removal was prompted by the app store or the developer.
From January 1 to June 30, 2021, Pixalate’s data science and analytics team studied the 5 million+ apps and app developers delisted from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. If an app existed in a specific app store during the time period of interest and was afterwards deleted, it is deemed delisted.