European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) by one third decreased the number of Android applications in the Google Play Store. Due to the introduction of new rules, the development of applications has become more expensive, and profits from them have decreased.

In the new research they say that reducing the number of applications harms consumers and the economy of mobile applications.

“In July 2016, our data showed 2.1 million applications in the Google Play store. At the end of 2017, their number increased to 2.8 million – and fell by almost a million (about 32%) by the end of 2018,” the text says. 

GDPR was adopted shortly before the study began, but it came into force only on May 25, 2018. In total, researchers reviewed the 4.1 million applications available on Google Play between October 2016 and October 2019. Currently, the platform hosts about 3.48 million applications. 

Revenue from applications can be generated through their sales, as well as purchases and advertising within applications. Revenue from advertising accounted for more than two-thirds during all research time. 

Under the influence of GDPR, developers spend more on complying with rules that require users to consent to data collection, transparent use of information, targeted restrictions, accuracy, limited storage, confidentiality and accountability. 

Due to this, the number of applications decreased by a third in the quarters after the implementation of the law. They also created fewer new applications – their output fell by 47.2% and usage – by 45.3%.

It is also interesting that the average number of users in the application has increased by about a quarter. People have switched to better applications, and applications themselves have become less intrusive since the GDPR – although this trend began earlier. 


Some experts have criticized the study of the impact of GDPR on the number of applications. Among the remarks was the fact that data protection laws in Europe existed before, and users had to consent to the processing of information.

It is also said that if the GDPR had too negative an effect, there would be a large number of applications that exist only in the US – because the GDPR operates within the framework of EU law. The study did not compare applications from the US and the EU.

“It may well be that some ‘flashlight apps’ are gone now, but I am not sure if anyone misses them. I guess people have more demand for fair quality apps, and these apps usually don’t do terrible stuff with your data, so they have no major need to adjust to GDPR. So instead of counting the number of apps, it would probably be more important to see if any quality or relevant apps have disappeared”, says activist and lawyer Max Shrems.

According to another expert, compliance with the law will be problematic for those developers who have not previously taken into account the principles of data protection in their work. The document will encourage you to review what the laws are doing and make corrections if necessary.