The VPNs that (Still) Dominate Russia

Ariel Ariel
May. 20

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps #114 - Lots of Turbulence Ahead. Check out the full article for more insights.

Shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began back in February, VPN apps became the most downloaded class of apps in Russia. We covered it a few times early on.

Now, nearly three months into it, I was curious to see if this wave was over.

The short answer is not exactly. VPNs are still some of the most downloaded apps in Russia right now, but the pool of options has gotten much smaller.

Two VPN apps are now in command in Russia, down from more than 10 apps that were fighting for dominance a few months ago. The two are, from Cloudflare, a well-known name, and Super Unlimited Proxy, an unknown name.

Downloads of both rose sharply at the end of February. Within two weeks of Russia's invasion, weekly downloads rose from around 14,000 to nearly a million for the pair, according to our estimates.

This was pretty much the case for most apps that had the term "VPN" in their name. But unlike the rest, Cloudflare and its no-name competitor didn't decline. In fact, downloads continued to rise.

Our estimates show weekly downloads have hit their highest last week, adding 1.9 million new downloads from the App Store and Google Play in Russia alone. The previous peak was the week before, but the one before that was back in mid-March.

The demand for VPNs isn't likely to decline as long as there's censorship, and I'm not seeing that ending any time soon. I'm still surprised that these two apps are allowed to operate in Russia. Do you think that'll change?

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Tagged: #business

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