This Week in Apps #44: Everyone's Talking Privacy and Elon Musk

Ariel Ariel
3 minute read Jan. 15

This Week in Apps is a short, no-fluff, round-up of interesting things that happened in the mobile industry. Here are our top highlights.


U.S. Mobile Download Index: App Store 112.61, Google Play 90.03

📈 What a week for news, the category that's carrying the entire index up on the App Store. As 2020 refuses to let go, many are turning to apps to consume their information.


1. Parler's last hurrah

The last week has been a very tumultuous one for social media. After Twitter and Facebook banned Donald Trump, Apple, Google, and AWS went on to eliminate Parler, the Twitter alternative many expected Trump to relocate to.

Google took the app down without notice, but Apple gave Parler 24 hours, which made people rush to download it before it's gone. We estimate that rush to have added nearly 2,000,000 new users to Parler.

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2. Musk hands Signal millions of new users

Facebook handed itself somewhat of an own goal last week by changing the terms of WhatsApp. The new terms require all WhatsApp users to share data with Facebook, which, as you can imagine, caused a small outrage.

That outrage turned into a raging 🔥 when Elon Musk and Edward Snowden suggested switching to rival Signal. Downloads exploded!

FYI - Edward Snowden went on to retweet the chart below.

Our app intelligence shows that within hours of those tweets, downloads rose from 20,000/day pre-tweets to more than 2,000,000 on Sunday and 2,600,000 on Monday.

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Facebook went on to clarify it doesn't want access to all private communications but only those conducted with businesses, but the damage had already been done.

3. One tweet two winners

Elon's a powerful influencer, and when he tweeted to use Signal, some people thought he meant Signal Advance Inc and not Signal the messaging app.

Those people rushed to invest in the company, which is public, and guess which app they used to invest with?

Mere mortal favorite Robinhood saw downloads grow from an average of 35,000/day in November to more than 93,000 on Thursday, the day of the tweet, and 110,000 on Friday.

4. Privacy made this duck fly

Speaking of privacy, demand for DuckDuckGo, an alternative search engine that claims to not collect any private information, jumped drastically this week.

All this talk of privacy and censorship got people thinking about the trail they leave online and grew DuckDuckGo's downloads by nearly 5x, from an average of 30,000 downloads per day to more than 170,000 last Sunday, based on our estimates.


5. Makeover not needed

Project Makeover, which was the #2 most downloaded game in the App Store in December, has crossed $20,000,000 in net revenue in the U.S., based on our estimates.

The 2-month old game has seen revenue grow consistently since launching in November. According to our app intelligence, Project Makeover added $10.8 million in the U.S. in December and peaked at more than $700,000 of net revenue in a single day in the U.S. across both platforms last Sunday.

The game has been downloaded 7.6M times in the U.S. since its release. A basic calculation suggests the game can earn $3 per download, which is a very respectable multiplier.

6. Playtika IPOs

Playtika, the developer behind the most popular casino app in the U.S., is IPOing today.

The company's flagship title, Slotomania, a casino game, has seen revenue grow steadily for the last few years. But with COVID lockdowns, revenue more than doubled for a few months, making 2020 the best year Playtika has had.

Net revenue in the U.S. across both platforms was $165M in 2020, up from $122.5M in 2019, based on our estimates. Net means this is what Playtika kept after Apple and Google took their fees.

Playtika's portfolio includes other popular games, all revolving around similar topics, making Playtika likely to maintain its momentum post IPO.

App Intelligence for Everyone

The insights in this report come from our proprietary, high-quality app intelligence. App makers, marketers, banks, investors, and journalists all over the world rely on our intelligence every day. Learn more →

Note: All figures included in this report are estimated. Revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.

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