The Pros & Cons of Apple Pre-Order: Is it Right for You?

December 20th, 2017

The Pros & Cons of Apple Pre-Order: Is it Right for You?
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

On Dec. 11th, Apple announced a new feature in the App Store for all developers: Apple Pre-Order. The new feature presents developers with the option to let users pre-order their app before its official release date. The addition of Apple Pre-Order adds another layer of discovery, benefitting app developers. It drives initial hype around their app, allowing them to create their app store listing to start driving visibility. pre-order1 Contrary to a similar feature that the Google Play Store has called Pre-Register, the quietly released Apple Pre-Order will provide users a faster way of getting the latest apps before they're released. Google's service only notifies a user when the newly released app is available, but doesn't automatically download the app to the customers' device or lock in the pre-order price. Apple Pre-Order, on the other hand, automatically downloads to the user's device, and sends a notification.

How it Works

Developers can opt for the Pre-Order feature roughly 2 to 90 days before their app is released. Once it’s live on the App Store, it will automatically download onto users’ phones along with a notification once the download is complete. For paid apps, customers won’t be charged until the day of release. If the price happens to change during the pre-order period, then users will automatically be charged the lower price of either the initial price or the launch price. pre-order2 Pre-Orders are available on all Apple platforms running iOS 11.2, tvOS 11.2, and macOS 10.13.2 or later. Like any other app, users are still able to discover apps with the pre-order feature from the products page, search results, or the Today, Games, and Apps tabs. While the concept of Apple’s new feature sounds fantastic, the real question is whether Pre-Order is right for everyone? We’ve looked at the pros and cons to help you decide.


  • Developers will have the tools to better understand the demand of their market to see how many users opt for Pre-Order.
  • With the Pre-Order feature, brand new apps will have the ability to improve their metadata and make sure it's optimized before their release. This way, their app and keywords can start indexing even before they go live.
  • Developers will be able to use the soft launch of their app to test its positioning in the App Store.
  • As an example, Apple Pre-Order can benefit all apps, especially mobile games. Before the mobile game is released, developers can bring awareness and generate more buzz around the release. This gets users excited for the game and starts building a loyal fan base before it is even out.

pre-order4 Cons

  • If the app has initial bugs and issues, it will make a negative first impression on its first users, which could tarnish the app’s reputation and retention rate.
  • Developers that opt for Pre-Order might have a lower opening rate (also known as its "first open") because users pre-order the app too early. They need to make sure that they're constantly trying to gear their marketing strategy toward these users so they don't forget about the app and are excited when it finally releases.
  • Developers want to avoid a fiasco similar to the one that occurred with Star Wars: Battlefront. While users were incredibly excited about being able to pre-order the game, there was massive backlash when they found out that most of the game's content was only available via DLCs. This backlash then forced the publishers to push the game's release back from the proposed launch date.

Key Takeaways Developers must decide if Apple Pre-Order is for them. Those that choose to opt for it, will need to start targeting users sooner rather than later so their app starts gaining a loyal following. If developers aren't tracking user trends and behavior, they're not utilizing ASO best practices to its full capabilities. If developers want to give Pre-Order a shot, they'll need to market their new app and get users excited before its actual release. Developers will have to weigh the pros and cons of Apple Pre-Order to establish if it's a worthwhile venture. While it may not be for everyone, it's definitely worth looking into.

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