This Week in Apps #63 - The Streaming Wars Continue

Ariel Ariel
6 minute read 5/8/21

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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1. How did Poparazzi do that?!?!?

Poparazzi, an app that wants to be the new Instagram of your friends, launched this week. Another day another app, right? Not this time! Poparazzi launched and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. immediately.

Just how did that happen? More on that below.

But first, let's look at downloads.

In its first three days in the App Store, Poparazzi was downloaded by more than 780K eager iPhone owners, according to our estimates. The U.S. was responsible for about 55% of those downloads, with the U.K., Germany, France, and Canada rounding out the top 5 countries.

Back to the main question, how did Poparazzi, an app that turns off your selfie camera and is only available for iPhone, manage to get so much traction so quickly?

TikTok + App Store pre orders. Clever + simple.

Poparazzi used TikTok to create a lot of hype for its launch

The app has also traded user privacy to amplify buzz, which isn't a very scalable strategy these days. But that isn't new. Clubhouse also plays around with your privacy to get more engagement, and that's working so far.

To sum it all up: TikTok is a powerful and still underutilized marketing channel for apps. This isn't the first time it catapults an app to the top of the store and unlikely to be the last. If you have a B2C app and aren't exploring ways to leverage TikTok, you're leaving money on the table.

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2. Amazon buys the streaming race

Another big story this week was Amazon's purchase of MGM, the iconic studio that owns the James Bond franchise and many other successful titles, for a record $8.4B. That's a big buy for Amazon!

So, why did they do it?

Content, but it's complicated.

See, while Amazon is in the video streaming game, it isn't leading by any stretch. Its original content is slowly coming together but isn't nearly as popular as original content from Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.

Looking at downloads, we can see exactly what that means.

Buying a big catalog of well-known movies should tip the scales in its favor, right? Not exactly.

Big productions usually have very complicated ownership structures. I won't pretend to understand the intricacies, but from what I've read so far, most big names are already co-owned by someone else who has the right to stream them, so you won't see the James Bond series on Amazon Prime Video just yet.

But, what Amazon does get is access to future productions, as well as production resources and a bunch of experience that would take a long time to build piecemeal.

Why is this interesting? It's very clear that streaming is one of the hottest areas right now, as more people transition away from cable and to on-demand viewing. The pandemic supercharged that, making it clear it's the future.

While some believe that as movie theaters reopen, this will change, I think it won't. How we consume content, much like how we commute and if we even have to, has been altered forever. The post-pandemic normal can't be the 2019 normal, and that's probably the bet Amazon made here.


3. The other race Amazon isn't winning right now

One race Amazon isn't wasn't behind is retail, having been the top retailer by downloads in many countries in the last year. But... that ended last month as Amazon's downloads slipped and a fashion retailer's grew:

That retailer is SHEIN, a fast-fashion company that focuses its marketing efforts on influencers.

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Over the last few months, a combination of declining downloads of Amazon and an increase in demand for SHEIN gave it a lead in downloads in the last month.

In numbers, that means SHEIN went from a little under 400K downloads on an average day in early 2021 to a little over 450K, an increase of about 13%. Amazon, in the meantime, managed to lose about 35% of its daily download, dropping from an average of 550K downloads to a tad under 400K, based on our estimates.

BTW. SHEIN is blocked in India, which happens to be Amazon's biggest market. Just imagine what would happen if that's reversed (but I don't see that happening).

Keep in mind: This isn't the first time Amazon slips and a competitor takes over. Wish had that going for a hot second last year, as did Walmart. Amazon always recovered.

The trend here is a bit different, and even though Amazon is a destination for fashion and even has its own fashion brands (not branded Amazon, of course), SHEIN may have enough momentum to make this situation sticky for Amazon. So... I won't be surprised if Amazon tries to acquire it in the near future.


4. Sony's got game

Last week, Sony launched a new game based on the popular anime series My Hero Academy, which became the most downloaded app in the U.S. very quickly. It's slipped since, but based on our estimates, it managed to attract more than 2M downloads globally since launch. Roughly 32% of those came from the U.S.

Revenue isn't bad either.

In its first eight days, MHA has earned a little over $2M in net revenue (roughly $2.8M gross) in the U.S., securing its place in the top 25 grossing apps and games.

Diving revenue by downloads, we can see MHA is earning about $3 for every download in the U.S. That's a good start, but it has to grow about 10x to catch up with Genshin Impact and Clash of Clans, both averaging $32 per download in the U.S.

5. Summer time = Scooter time

Now that summer is so close, electric scooter rentals are starting to climb. Downloads of big players Bird and Lime have been rising steadily since the beginning of the year and have reached a new high last weekend.

Bird closed last week with 181K new downloads and Lime with 202K, according to our estimates.

Last time I talked about scooter rentals, I said I expect the trend to only continue growing, and we can see it most definitely is. I'm a big fan of micro-mobility, so I see it as a positive and expect much more growth to come, enough to eclipse last year's numbers.

But rentals aren't the only thing that's in demand. Scooter purchases are up as well.

Segway sells one of the more popular scooters I see on the streets of NY these days, the Ninebot, and it comes with an app to set it up and maintain, making it a great proxy for new scooter ownership.

So far in 2021, weekly downloads of the Niebot app have doubled, topping 10,000 weekly downloads earlier in May, according to our estimates.

The bottom line: Electric scooters have evolved a lot over the last few years and are now a viable mode of transportation for many people, especially in big cities. It's not just something you do over the weekend (rent) but also something you use daily (buy).

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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.

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