From App Store Launch to Year 15, YouVersion Remains a Standout
On the App Store’s 15th anniversary, Bible App continues to experience unmatched growth
OKLAHOMA CITY (Jun. 26, 2023)—In July 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and YouVersion CEO Bobby Gruenewald had something in common: they were both surprised by their organization’s success on launch weekend of the App Store.
After just three days, Jobs reported a staggering 10 million app installs, an average of 12,500 installs for each of the 800 apps available. In the same three days, the Bible App saw more than 83,000 installs. This not only surpassed the goal Gruenewald had hoped to reach by the end of that year, but it was also more than six times the App Store average that weekend.
“When we submitted the app for approval, we didn’t even know if it would make it into the App Store on opening day or even at all,” said Gruenewald. “It ended up being one of only a couple hundred free apps available that first day and went on to have an incredible first weekend. Honestly, our minds were blown.”
While some of 2008’s most popular apps are still around (Facebook, Evernote, and Google Earth), many others (AOL Instant Messenger, BoxOffice, and Crash Bandicoot: Nitro Kart 3D) didn’t make it to the 15-year mark. With more than 575 million installs to date, YouVersion has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of its community and is currently experiencing its biggest growth year ever. In fact, every minute of the day, the Bible App is installed 95 times, a verse is shared 1,070 times, and a verse is highlighted, bookmarked, or annotated 3,200 times.
With the creation of the Bible App, the digital format introduced new possibilities for Bible engagement. People began to integrate the Bible into their daily lives more frequently because of its proximity on the device that’s always with them. Over the last 15 years, YouVersion has leveraged industry innovations to help people build consistent Bible engagement habits, including using push notification reminders, gamification features like streaks, and community features like friendships and prayer.
One of the biggest ways YouVersion has leveraged its digital format is by adding languages. Nearly 70% of installs currently occur outside North America, creating a high demand for Bible content in multiple languages. The Bible App launched with Bible text in just two languages, surpassed 500 languages in its fifth year, and now, with the help of Bible societies and publishers around the world, offers Bible text in nearly 2,000 languages. By 2033, YouVersion and its partners plan to see some portion of the Bible translated into all 7,000+ languages spoken on earth, some of which need to have a written language developed before Bible translation can even begin.
The Bible App is also localized in 64 languages, meaning that everything in the app (like the menu, buttons, etc.) is translated to ensure the full app experience feels as natural as possible for people who speak Swahili or Korean as it does for English speakers. For reference, Facebook is offered in 32 languages and Duolingo is offered in 26 languages. More than 1,400 YouVersion volunteers around the world help make localization at this scale possible.
As a donor-funded non-profit, volunteers have been crucial to YouVersion’s global operations, allowing it to run relatively lean compared to apps of similar size. Additionally, many of the 150-person team left lucrative corporate roles and relocated to Oklahoma, where YouVersion is based, in pursuit of a more fulfilling career. YouVersion team members who previously worked for Boeing, NASA, Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Hanes, and SpaceX are now using their diverse skillsets to contribute to the app that had a significant impact on their faith.
“In my role at YouVersion, I get to be a part of incredibly important and rewarding work that will leave a lasting legacy,” said Nona Jones, Chief Content and Partnerships Officer for YouVersion, who was formerly at Meta. “It’s such an honor to be a part of creating technology that doesn’t just intersect with people’s lives, but changes them for the better.”
For more information about YouVersion and its global impact, visit youversion.com.
Created by Life.Church, YouVersion designs biblically-centered experiences that encourage and challenge people to seek God throughout each day. The Bible App offers a free Bible experience in nearly 2,000 languages and has been installed on more than 575 million unique devices. Bible App Lite is an offline-optimized, space-saving app with more than 7 million installs across Africa and SE Asia as part of an effort to equip countries with internet limitations. The Bible App for Kids, developed in partnership with OneHope, helps children engage with the stories of the Bible through interactive animations and fun activities. It has been installed on more than 100 million unique devices.