This Week in Apps #62 - The Money's Still Good

Ariel Ariel
May. 21

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.

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Index (30 Days)

U.S. Mobile Download Index: App Store 89.54 (-5.3%), Google Play 73.24 (+5.1%)

One category I have to point out this week is Travel, which has grown drastically in the last two weeks, adding 23 points on the App Store and a whopping 37 points for Google Play.

I'll be digging into those trends next week.


1. TikTok's other win

TikTok's video editor, Capcut, took over the App Store this week. While that's a pretty impressive feat, the free video editor has been doing quite well for a while now, which has gone mostly under the radar.

Downloads reached 742K this Wednesday, which is the app's biggest day so far in 2021, according to our estimates. Platform-wise, about 2/3 of the downloads came via Google Play while the rest from the App Store, as CapCut follows TikTok's growth pattern.

Why is this interesting? The video editor market is not a tiny one in terms of revenue. The top 10 apps in the group grossed nearly $100,000,000 in the U.S. alone. If TikTok can deliver a decent editor for free, however, it will prove a tough competitor for apps like Splice and Videoleap, costing them millions.

TikTok has every incentive to make a more-than-decent app and keep it free forever because it means more content on its video platform. More content = more engagement = more ad revenue, which far exceeds what a video editor can make.

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2. Non stop Discord

Discord didn't sell to Microsoft, which wasn't a huge surprise considering its very healthy revenue growth. Just how much growth are we talking?

So far, with only a few exceptions, Discord's month-over-month revenue has had a positive slope. In 2020, it grew by 500%, from hundreds of thousands to over $3,700,000 in net revenue ($5.3M gross). The trend continued, but at a more moderate pace, in 2021, with 38% growth so far in the year, based on our estimates.

The bottom line: Discord isn't here to sell, it's here to grow, which should be very positive news for its millions of users. The app has been performing consistently well and shows strong growth, which all signal an IPO to me, and a successful one.

3. The $1,000,000 neighborhood watch

Citizen, the app that crowdsources alarming news that would make you not want to leave your house, was in the news a bunch this week for attempting to assist the police in capturing an arsonist but got it wrong and had to apologize.

Whether the concept is right or wrong isn't a matter for this newsletter, but what is, is Citizen's gross revenue, which recently crossed $1,000,000.

I was curious to see how the app makes money because they promised not to sell private data or ads in the past. The revenue isn't coming from any of those. Instead, it's coming from a new service Citizen is testing which offers real-time help in case of trouble.

The service, which is called Protect, is labeled as being in testing and isn't available to all users, but so far, enough users have opted in to have their own Protect Agent to give the app a million bucks.

That one I didn't see coming. But... considering the political climate, COVID, and overall weirdness we see on the streets, I'm not terribly surprised at the move and at the signups.

4. Parler struggles

Parler, the social media network Apple removed from the App Store back in January for not having proper moderation, has been allowed back into the store.

The service, which made quite a few changes, including replacing its CEO and app icon, built a new moderation system that's only going to be working on Apple devices to hide some posts.

I wasn't sure if its return will be seen as a victory for the free-speech network or end up being just another launch. Looking at ranks, it was more the latter than the former.

The app started climbing the ranks very quickly after its return, but it wasn't the exponential climb we've seen before it was removed. Instead, it slowly inched its way up the News category and barely made it up the overall chart.

It started Friday at the #7 spot in its category, where it's been for pretty much all of yesterday and the day before, and ranked #1212 overall in the U.S., dropping slowly over the last few days.

So what? This story is not as easy as "Apple removed an app and then it came back". To return into the App Store, Parler had to develop a moderation system which only applies to Apple's users. Imagine what would happen if Apple did that to Twitter.

The other interesting part of this is that while the app is back, with an estimated 10K downloads, it isn't a triumphant return, at all. Was this new moderation system worth it, or did it push its core user away?

5. New York's new passport

The U.S., via the CDC, has announced the return to normal by eliminating the need to wear masks in public both inside and outside. Hurray, right?

Well... Only vaccinated people can unmask inside, according to the update, which made me think "everyone's going to lie...".

To combat that, the state of New York added a provision that vaccinated people need to be able to prove they're vaccinated to enjoy seeing the mouths of others in closed areas such as bars and restaurants. For that, they've turned to an app called Excelsior Pass Wallet.

Downloads of the app, which officially launched in March, have climbed steadily this week, hitting a new high on Wednesday with more than 28K downloads, based on our intelligence.

In total, the app was downloaded by more than 550K iPhone and Android users, which, if you compare against the number of residents of the state, is about 2.75%. Not that many, but a bit more than I expected, given the national debate over vaccine passports.

If you zoom in a bit however and only compare that number against the number of residents in the New York City area, which is most likely the target region for this app, that number grows to nearly 7%, which is pretty significant.

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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.

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