Over the past 5 years, with the popularization of smart phones, the mobile app market has developed rapidly. Understanding the factors that can influence consumers’ download intentions has become crucial to researchers, mobile app developers and publishers. Regulatory focuses, which can be classified into promotion focus and prevention focus, influence consumer behavior. This research discusses how design instability affects consumers’ intention to download mobile apps using descriptions manipulated by different regulatory focuses. The results of two studies demonstrated that consumers with more promotion focus (prevention focus) would have higher download intention for apps with unstable (stable) icons. Other elements, such as the salience of stability, the boundary condition, and consumer involvement, are also discussed in this research. Our findings not only provide app publishers with deep insights into consumers’ decision-making in app selection but also contribute to the literature on app icon visual design and the regulatory focus theory.