There's an Official ChatGPT App Now - What's Going to Happen to the $10,000,000 Industry its Absence Created?
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OpenAI released an official mobile app for ChatGPT this week. Normally I'd wait a week or two and collect some data before talking about it here, but this launch is important, so instead of focusing on the data I'm going to share my thoughts about what this means.
I'll look at the data next week.
ChatGPT is currently the most downloaded app in the US App Store, the only place where you can get the app right now.
This isn't a surprise, but what does this release mean for the thousands of apps that launched to bring ChatGPT to mobile phones over the last few months?
My take - it's both good and bad. Good for some, bad for others.
Let's start with the bad. Or rather, let's start with a few numbers to get some context.
There are 2,970 apps on the App Store and Google Play that have GPT in their name or description. Five were released today and 451 so far in May. Developers have moved fast, and considering most of those apps are thin wrappers around OpenAI, the speed makes sense.
Out of this ocean of apps, a handful became very successful. Apps like Ask AI and Genie are seeing millions of downloads and millions of dollars in monthly revenue. In total, we estimate AI chatbots have earned around $10M in net revenue in the last month.
Now that we have the numbers, let's get to the bad news.
The official ChatGPT app is very bare, just like ChatGPT on the web. That's not the bad news yet.
Most of those apps currently out there are pretty much the same, which means they don't have any real competitive advantage and their existence is now threatened by the official client because it'll be much easier to find it and not those other apps.
That's the bad news. Apps that rely on OpenAI's APIs and offer no additional value on top will have a very hard time competing right now. They could spend a lot on ads to get visibility, but ChatGPT is so hot that even if they do manage to succeed in getting eyeballs and downloads, the return on it will be heavily negative.
I suspect many of the thousands of apps currently available will get abandoned as their developers move on.
But ChatGPT's app will also be good news for some apps.
One of the biggest challenges with ChatGPT is what to do with it. Sure, you can ask it anything, but... what should you ask?
There are apps that help with that. Some offer pre-generated prompts, others add functionality that ChatGPT doesn't have like summarizing PDFs and websites, or interacting with other services.
Plugins could solve this, but the app doesn't offer access to plugins yet, and I don't see OpenAI opening a prompt gallery any time soon.
Apps that add functionality on top of ChatGPT conversations are still at an advantage, and as more people are exposed to AI more people will likely want help with what to do with it, and will likely want an alternative that can do that.
The tech crowd might want an official app, but the masses will want specific features.
App Store Optimization, paid ads, and word of mouth are going to drive even more downloads for those apps as a result.
Should you join the race right now? Maybe. If you want to build a real app with real value, sure. If you just want some quick cash, no, that's all over.
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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.