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Print Bibles remain popular despite rapid growth of YouVersion app

The popularity of the YouVersion Bible app continues to soar 15 years after its launch. It has been downloaded on more than 575 million unique devices in nearly 2,000 languages, and people continue to install it at the rate of 95 times a minute.

“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,” CEO Bobby Gruenewald says. “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.”

In the first three days, the app was downloaded more than 83,000 times, far more downloads than Gruenewald had expected to have at the end of 2008. Today, the Bible App continues to exceed expectations even in a sea of more than 1.6 million apps that include hundreds of other Bible apps in the iOS App Store.

When the Bible app was first launched, the text featured only two languages but by its fifth year, it had more than 500. The text of the Bible app is now featured in nearly 2,000 languages and the plan is to offer scripture in the world’s more than 7,000 languages by 2033.

Despite the popularity of the app, the print version of the Bible appears to remain the choice of the majority of young people, 47 percent to 28 percent. Women especially prefer the print version by 50 percent to 24 percent over digital. Although more more men, 31 percent, than women prefer the digital version of the Bible, 43 percent still list a print Bible as their top choice to engage with the Word of God.

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“The Bible app has been an effective tool to help people read the Bible more consistently, but I don’t think the print Bible is going away,” Gruenewald said. “In fact, many of our users regularly use both. We believe we’re just at the beginning of what God wants to do through YouVersion. Even after 15 years, our perspective is that our story isn’t in the past tense but it’s a story that has a really big future in front of it as we remain focused on how to help millions of people build intimacy with God through his word.”

In 2022, YouVersion was forced to update its privacy policy after a decade of widespread criticism over privacy concerns. Since 2013, the app had been accused of over-collecting data and as late as 2019 it required access to all the user contact info in address books and GPS location.

After being listed as one of the top 10 apps to “delete now” over data collection concerns, it updated its privacy polices on April 2, 2022.

Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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