This Week in Apps #76 - Reaching New Highs

Ariel Ariel
6 minute read Aug. 27

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 319.95 +13.1% Google Play 326.01 +1.6%

In This Article

Insights

1. Peacock Sets a New Bar

I look at streaming apps a lot and often, and while the big pair—HBO Max and Disney+—continue to hold their lead, they're not the only ones that are seeing serious revenue growth.

NBC's Peacock has been growing steadily this year, with subscription revenue increasing consistently month over month growth.

In July, Peacock saw its biggest increase in net revenue, by absolute numbers, since launching in 2020.

According to our estimates, Peacock earned, after store fees, $5.4M in July from the App Store and Google Play. Rewinding to June, that total was $3.8M. One summer month, $1.6M of new net revenue. For context, Peacock brought in $1.6M of revenue for the entire month in February.

I believe this demand is a result of the current no-longer-in-lockdown-but-not-really-out-and-about situation coupled with lots of kids who are glued to their TVs because there isn't much else to do.

Will it continue as summer comes to an end and things IRL resume? Probably! I say that because we're looking at revenue coming from iPhones and Androids, aka mobile devices, not TV sets... In a world that's quickly evolving into phone-first, streaming is no longer a home-only kind of experience.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, we're witnessing the early land-grab days of video streaming, and as viewers, it means loads of discounts and lots of new content that's very easy to access, even if the economics go against the platforms. It'll take a while until things get back to the kind of stagnation we saw pre-Netflix. Or, at least that's what I hope.


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2. Discord's Revenue Hits New High

Another popular app that's hit a new high is Discord, the gamer-friendly chat app that declined a biiiig offer from Microsoft not too long ago.

Since introducing in-app purchases, Discord's revenue has seen consistent month-over-month growth with a single exception. But in terms of cash, July 2021 was the month.

According to our estimates, Discord hauled in $5.7M in net revenue in the U.S. alone, from iOS and Android users in July. That's up 12% from June's haul, which was 11% higher than May. I can go on, but I'll save you the number game—the trend is very healthy.

Just so you have a little more context, let's zoom out a bit and look at numbers by year. Still in the U.S. only, Discord raked in $2M in 2019, $19.7M in 2020, and so far in 2021, $35.4M of net revenue. With four months to go in the year and a double-digit month-over-month growth rate, I expect 2021's total to triple 2020.

That's a big deal! Discord operates in a sector that, for the most part, is competitor-free. Slack might have the features but isn't at all aimed at the same crowd. Microsoft Teams? Even less so. Unless something big happens, and I can't see how, Discord's popularity has cemented itself, and as long as they don't mess up, growth will continue.

That's an IPO I'll be waiting for, even though I'm not a real gamer.

3. Why Did Headspace Do That???

Earlier this week, popular meditation app Headspace announced it's merging with (not acquiring?) Ginger, which offers mental health services on-demand (aka. via app). Considering Headspace's popularity, I found the "merging" aspect of it a bit surprising.

When have you seen a good merger recently?

To try to understand why this is the path Headspace chose, I took a look at the most important number of all numbers, revenue, and see if it tells a story that isn't otherwise too obvious:

Headspace, which led in revenue back in 2017, has lost its lead to rival Calm, which took that lead and ran with it growing the gap to nearly 2x, ending July 2021 with $4M of net revenue in the U.S. vs. Headspace's $1.9M, based on our estimates.

In addition to the absolute numbers, the trend Calm is on is very healthy while Headspace, who's still growing, seems to struggle.

As we've seen again and again (and again), revenue is the king of metrics, and how many financial decisions—from acquisitions to IPOs—are made these days. I suspect that the struggling trend is what made an acquisition harder than a merger, and given the language surrounding this merger, which focuses on big numbers (employees, customers, etc.), the pair will soon seek an IPO.

4. Is the Mac App Store Thriving?

I rarely talk about the Mac App Store, and that's because not much goes on there... But this week, I wanted to quantify that gut feeling by looking at how active the store is.

The short answer is, it isn't.

The slightly longer answer is, it isn't and it's only slowing down.

In 2020, developers released, on average, 392 new apps to the Mac App Store every month. The actual figures range between the low 300s and low 400s, so the average is a fair estimate.

For context, there App Store saw 40,000 new apps on average every month in 2020. That's 100x more.

But our story continues because so far in 2021, the average number of new Mac apps has dropped to 343, with the variance growing drastically and the low end dropping into the low 200s.

So what? With the new M1 processor, the promise of iOS apps on desktop became real, and I see a lot of potential there for many developers. But... the way I see it, this can go in two very different directions. Once enough M1-equipped computers are in the hands of consumers, and given how many apps will become available instantly, users will be forced to use the Mac App Store to get apps. Or, another possibility is that because the Mac App Store isn't a destination at all, users will skip the experience altogether and continue to use iOS apps where they were intended to be used, on phones, and this opportunity will die.

I would love to see the former, but without major changes from Apple, I'm ready for the latter.

5. Scooter Rentals Give Glimpse of the Future

It's no secret that I like me some scooters, and looking at the numbers, I'm not the only one! Downloads of Lime and Bird, the two most popular scooter rental services in the U.S. have reached new post-pandemic highs this summer.

Combined, the pair was downloaded more than 288K times in the U.S. last week and a similar number the week prior. In the same week last year, downloads were roughly a half at 147K for the pair, based on our estimates. That figure represents the peak downloads for the summer of 2020, and 2021 is still continuing to grow.

The trend here is much larger than just scooters. As big cities settle into a post-lockdown lifestyle, many pre-pandemic habits and routines will change and morph, and if what we saw over the last year continues, many of these new habits and routines will involve a mobile phone in some capacity—be it ordering a ride, unlocking a scooter, talking to a therapist, exercising, and I can go on for a while but you get the idea.

In a way, the gold rush of apps is making a comeback. It's very different than what we saw in 2008/2009, and considering how mature the industry is, the kind of silliness that made headlines back then won't this time around, but the opportunities are there and bigger than ever before.

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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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