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. App downloads grew 7% in May
We released our monthly report on the most downloaded apps for May earlier in the week. TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world, again, with more than 68M downloads in May across the App Store and Google Play based on our App Intelligence.
Facebook's trio was right behind it, Followed by Telegram and Zoom. A very familiar view if you've been following the series.
I'm keeping an eye on Capcut, TikTok's video editor. The niche it's disrupting is pretty big and ready to fight back, which we saw VSCO do a few weeks ago.
Now comes the big test. Apps have become the go-to for pretty much everything over the last year and a half. In part because of their convenience but mainly because there was not much else to do. Now that restrictions are being lifted entirely in many countries, the question is whether this unstoppable demand will subside as we go back to having other things to do.
I don't think so...
Habits are very hard to break, and reaching for a phone for almost everything, being it shopping, watching sports, or conducting business calls, is so integrated into the daily routine of many. I don't see that changing very quickly because, ultimately, it's pretty convenient.
That's why Apple is releasing real marketing tools for developers for the first time.
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2. Peacock's streaming up a storm
Peacock, NBC's new(ish) streaming app, will be celebrating its first birthday next month. The app launched at a great time when demand for content was exploding, and streaming became the way to consume new content.
It's not the only streamer to launch or rebrand around that time, so competition wasn't easy. We can see that with downloads, which started high but slowed down.
Revenue, the true test, however, tells a different story:
Since its launch, Peacock's revenue has grown by double-digits month-over-month, and in May, net revenue from both iOS and Android users has reached $3.6M, the most Peacock has ever earned in a single month.
Why is this interesting? HBO Max and Disney+, two streamers I talk about often, manage to command the top charts both by downloads (so there's interest) and revenue (so there's meaningful engagement), but that doesn't mean the streaming game is finished. Content is the key, and one streamer can't have it all.
The "great unbundling" of cable channels into apps is happening right in front of our eyes. I think there's room for a new bundler, but in app format, and I have a feeling that role will be taken up by YouTube in the not-so-distant future.
3. The Instagram for plants
Have you ever looked at a flower and didn't know its name? Or, looked at a dying plant and wanted to know what's going on?
Well, there's an app for that.
PictureThis uses AI to identify plants from a single picture. It can even tell you what's wrong with a plant from that same picture, which is pretty interesting.
Sounds like a gimmick, right?
Looking at revenue, the answer is no.
It's one thing to get downloads with paid ads for an app like this, something PictureThis does heavily. We've seen more than 200 unique ads run across several ad networks in the last month. Turning those downloads into revenue is a bit more difficult because it requires that users see value.
So far this year, PictureThis has earned nearly $14M in net revenue in the U.S. alone, according to our estimates. Most of that, about $9M of net revenue, was earned since April when PictureThis started taking off.
Is this a real trend? AI for (blank) is becoming a catchphrase, so yes, this is a trend. We've seen a whole bunch of apps that use AI to do things, from changing faces to animating the dead, going viral. We see it happening even more this year when compared to previous years. So yes, definitely a trend.
4. If you thought TikTok was big in the US...
TikTok had its biggest month of revenue in the U.S. in May. We estimate the video platform ended the month with $7.2M of net revenue in the U.S. App Store. That's quite a lot considering in-app purchases aren't even TikTok's main source of revenue.
Why am I only looking at the App Store?
Because I'm going to compare in-app revenue to China!
In TikTok's home base, China, things look very different. And by "different," I mean higher.
Net revenue in China totaled $14.2M in May, twice as much as TikTok earned in the U.S. It wasn't TikTok's biggest month in China. That was March, which brought in $16.6M in net revenue, according to our estimates.
So far this year, TikTok has brought in $31M in net revenue from the U.S. App Store and $76M from China. Remember, that's all after Apple took its cut.
TikTok's big, so what? In-app payments in TikTok are contributions users give creators, so growing revenue means growing engagement. The serious kind of engagement. That's an incredible payoff for the growth teams at TikTok that have been executing wonderfully over the last few years.
5. A 24 hour rush for Paramount+
One last streamer for this week. I promise.
If you look at the top chart in the U.S. this morning, you'll see a streamer up top. Not the one from last week... This week it's Paramount+, one of the latest entrants to the streaming race in the U.S.
The App Store is very responsive to demand, and the charts update very quickly, which we can see by the rise of Paramount+. In the last 48 hours, the app climbed the ranks quickly, starting at #103 on Wednesday and reaching #1 just a few hours ago.
Content is (still) king!
I mentioned that when talking about Peacock, and it applies here again. With every cable channel turning into a streaming app, the obvious question was, "would they get them all or stick with a few" and the answer is increasingly getting clearer.
Ideal for users? Not really. Good for streamers? Yes, but only in the short run. A bundler has to come and create the cable of streaming. Amazon tried to do it a few years ago, but it didn't take off. I'm sure they'll try again. My money's still on YouTube.
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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.