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 94.29, Google Play 69.12
1. Back on Top!
Earlier this week, we released our monthly report of the most downloaded apps in February.
TikTok topped the App Store, scoring nearly twice the downloads of the runner-up, YouTube. On Google Play, it was Telegram that took the crown with TikTok right behind it. Across stores, however, TikTok showed it dominance.
The 5 most downloaded apps worldwide and across stores came from TikTok, Telegram, and Facebook, which took the 3rd, 4th, and 5th places with its flagship properties.
While these are pretty similar to January's list, one iOS app has managed to crack the top 10 again as it recovers from a bad year, and that's Google Maps. Downloads got hit very hard, like a lot of other apps in the travel category, when the lockdowns began, and while partial recovery happened within a few months, it's only now, a year in, that we're starting to see the numbers return to where they were in 2019. Now let's see how long it'll take to see growth.
Based on our app intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded apps were downloaded more than 331M times in February.
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2. What the font?!?!?
Speaking of reaching the top, this week, Fontise, an app for making your own custom fonts, saw its downloads skyrocket, which propelled it into the top chart for a few days.
Looking at our estimates, we can see downloads rose sharply from an average of 30 downloads a day to 157K on Tuesday. I'd use % to describe this, but we'd need too many numbers. Fontise kept up on Wednesday, scoring 156K new downloads.
Interest in customization isn't small. We saw how much people want to make their home screens their own when widgets came out, and while that trend slowed down, there's a bevy of apps that are still getting a good number of downloads.
3. Paramount+ joins the race
After a long wait, CBS pulled an HBO move and rebranded its CBS All Access streaming app into Paramount+.
Paramount+ is joining a race that's already very crowded, but with live sports and a network of channels (aka. original content), it has an edge over some of its competitors.
Since the rebrand, downloads have been at an all-time high, rising sharply from a weekend average of roughly 50K downloads to around 300K last weekend, according to our estimates.
This isn't exactly "demand" and is more about promotion, which CBS is paying a lot for, but if it catches on, Paramount+ could become a strong competitor and edge out services like Peacock, which lost most of the momentum it had from bringing back the office in January.
Bottom line: streaming is becoming a hot mess, turning into the great unbundling of cable but at a higher cost and a much bigger headache to manage. Amazon tried to bundle content from different providers a few years ago, but I wouldn't call it a big success. Seeing how things are going, they might want to try this again if the streamers will let them.
4. Wait, what about CBS?
CBS's rebrand, unlike HBO's, didn't kill the original CBS app. The original app was renamed, but CBS released a new app with the CBS branding and, for the most part, the same offering.
Why? Because people who want CBS content may not realize it's now called Paramount+
The new app had a great launch week, scoring 752K downloads, according to our estimates.
Rebranding to a name that's so different and not necessarily intuitive is a risky move. When HBO Now became HBO Max, the "HBO" part of it was still there, so it was still recognizable, but CBS becoming Paramount trades a name people recognize for one they don't.
Here's the thing. I think how they approached this transition is very smart. First, rebrand the app that already has a big user-base, which gives them a big pool of people to try and upsell, and then create a new app to make sure those who haven't seen all the ads or read the news will still find the content they want, which CBS will again, have an opportunity to upsell to the rebranded app.
This is also a good move for App Store Optimization, because it'll make it much easier to rank and to be found.
5. Not another NFT
If you've looked at the top apps on Google Play in the U.S. recently, you may have noticed Bee Network, a fairly new app that gives you its own currency for having the app.
Why would you want those? That's a good question, but looking at downloads, a lot of people want it.
Since launching in December of last year, our estimates show it was downloaded more than 5.8M times across the App Store and Google Play. 3.1M of those downloads, more than half of the total, happened in the last 30 days.
One thing I found interesting is that on the App Store, Bee is listed in the Games category. I wonder why that is...
Why's this interesting? Apps that give something for nothing tend to take something, and in our day and age, that's usage and location information. I don't know for sure that's what Bee does, but that's what I suspect, and reading the reviews hasn't changed my mind.
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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.