This Week in Apps #75 - A Bunch of Firsts!

Ariel Ariel
Aug. 20

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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U.S. Revenue Index (30 Day)

App Store 300.61 +13.8% Google Play 329.76 +5.5%

Insights

1. Fashion + NFTs = Game

French fashion house Louis Vuitton dipped its toes into the world of mobile games earlier this month by releasing Louis the Game in a move that's interesting from a few different angles.

The game, which offers the story of the company's origin from the eyes of its mascot while also offering 30 free NFTs, was downloaded more than a million times in its first two weeks.

According to our estimates, 85% of downloads came from China. The reason? The game had a very strong launch campaign to back it up. Louis Vuitton released a WeChat sticker pack as part of the campaign, and the game was fully localized into Chinese, giving it social-share appeal.

Although downloads have subsided quickly, there are two interesting insights here:

Big in China. Louis Vuitton, a French company, released a game in English and Chinese. That says a lot about where it's looking for new buyers. China's market, which has become much more accessible via mobile apps, expands the pool that used to only include the U.S.

We see it with games, shopping, and fashion. But... Operating in China isn't as simple as building once and deploying globally. Cultural differences and different laws and regulations require building for China. The numbers are there, so I fully expect to see more companies vying for this new market to build separately for China.

Chasing the trend. NFTs and digital art are all the rage these days, so it's no surprise brands are trying to ride the wave. But the speed at which this came together is what's interesting here. Just a few years ago, things moved much slower. Campaigns took longer to set, and new trends weren't adopted very quickly.

Today it's NFTs, next month it could be something else. As life slowly moves into the metaverse, the brands who follow the trends most quickly will be the ones to win.


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2. Yik What???

Earlier this week, Yik Yak made a comeback after being shut down in 2017.

If you have no idea what Yik Yak is or think it's a play on TikTok--Yik Yak is a messaging app where you can communicate with people in a small radius around you anonymously.

Interesting? Sounds a lot more 2012 than 2021 to me...

In its first 24 hours, the iOS-only app quickly rose to the top of the Social Networking category. A few hours later, it also managed to claim the #2 position overall in the U.S. It's since dropped from both, sitting in 8th place in its category and 46th place overall as of Friday morning.

We estimate that those first three days of "success" earned Yik Yak about 183K downloads in the U.S., the only country it's available in right now.

What prompted the revival? It's hard to tell.

The app, which was popular in schools and universities where the five-mile radius can easily get you in front of lots of eyeballs, died in 2017 for mostly being itself, allowing anonymous interactions that turned into harassment and cyberbullying.

The rights to it changed hands, and the new owner decided to give it another go while focusing on better moderation.

The rise of TikTok has led to some interesting attempts at social media. Dispo, Poparazzi, and others have tried to enter the race but couldn't keep the attention. If history repeats itself, it's more likely that new Yik Yak will follow old Yik Yak.

3. YouTube's Mountain of Money

YouTube hasn't dropped out of the top 5 grossing apps in the U.S. App Store even once this year. Or last year. Or the year before that. Not once!

Since 2018, our app intelligence shows that YouTube's net revenue from the U.S. App Store alone grew 7x, rising from $7.5M in January of 2018 to $57M of net revenue in July. Again, this is only in the U.S. and only from its iOS apps.

How? Easy, YouTube's massive audience and focus on conversion.

If you're using YouTube on your mobile device, you know they show you the upsell popup at just the right time. And looking at its pricing, it feels pretty fair.

I talk about video streaming often and rarely include YouTube because it doesn't feel like a competitor to Disney+ or HBO Max, but with mobile revenue beating both consistently and a growing catalog that includes more than just cat videos, I don't see any reason why YouTube won't be getting into original content soon. And when they do, it'll be a very interesting move to watch.

4. Hopper's AI Shines

Hopper, the travel company that uses AI to help you with travel, raised $175M this week, claiming the platform is seeing serious growth as travel continues to pick up.

We saw that travel is indeed growing a couple of weeks ago when I looked at the Mobile Download Index for the category, but let's have a look at Hopper's downloads and see just how much growth we're talking about here:

Our estimates show that Hopper ended July with more than a million new downloads, the highest monthly haul in its history. The number is even higher than Hopper's pre-pandemic rally, where it made its way into 752K new devices in February of 2020.

The success Hopper is seeing is a great signal for the travel industry, showing the lost demand from 2020 will make a serious comeback in 2021 and probably 2022 as well.

But it also shows a new trend, which is why Hopper is the top booking app right now, ahead of incumbents like Booking.com and Expedia. The trend is flexibility, something I wouldn't normally associate with travel pre-pandemic.

Hopper touts smart tech (aka. AI) that helps it find cheaper travel options while allowing it to offer cancellation and rebooking for free.

In a small-margin industry that's been hit very, very, very hard, Hopper's algorithmic approach will be loved by travelers and likely disliked by airlines. But, it's the former that calls the shots now, so I firmly suspect we'll see more flexibility from other platforms coming, even if it comes at a loss, to retain users.

5. TikTo's Newest Achievement

Social media is slowly becoming all about creator monetization. We can see that when looking at Twitch's and TikTok's revenue, new tools being tested by Twitter, and the chatter around what's the future of Clubhouse.

Speaking of TikTok, its revenue hit a new milestone last month!

Monthly revenue in the Chinese App Store hit a new all-time high with $26M of net revenue, according to our estimates. TikTok's in-app revenue comes from coins, which are an in-app currency to reward creators. In essence, it's how much money creators are making on the platform.

According to our app intelligence, TikTok ended 2019 with $53 of net revenue from China's App Store, which jumped to $211M in 2020, and we estimate TikTok's China revenue will grow even more this year, to more than $275M.

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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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