This Week in Apps #90 - Everything's Big!

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read 12/3/21

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.

U.S. Revenue Index (30 Day)

App Store
375.05 +76.3%
Google Play
317.93 +28.9%

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, or Google


1. MrBeast Broke YouTube, But... Did He Also Break Mobile?

I love me a good influencer marketing campaign, and last week one of the most ambitious ones I've seen in a while went live.

Supercell teamed up with YouTube's MrBeast and sponsored his latest video, a real-life version of Squid Game, to promote their mobile game Brawl Stars. The video got 100 million views in 3 days, and during the video, MrBeast himself disclosed it cost $3.5 million to produce.

I think it's safe to assume that Supercell paid most, if not all, of the bill.

Was it worth it?

Short answer - probably not.

Well, it depends.

According to our app intelligence, Brawl Stars saw a noticeable increase in downloads in some countries, but overall it wasn't that significant. Revenue, on the other hand, was completely unaffected.

I've looked at our estimates for Brawl Stars across the globe, comparing downloads during the week of the promotion to the previous week. The U.S. saw the most significant increase, with downloads growing 237%, from 67,00 to 226,000. Canada, the UK, and several other countries also saw triple-digit growth.

Overall, weekly downloads grew 27% to 1.44M, according to our estimates.

Revenue remained pretty stagnant throughout the week. Now that isn't necessarily a bad sign because freemium games don't always require payment right away. So there might be a sprout coming soon. I don't really expect it, though.

So, were a few hundred thousand downloads worth $3.5 million?

What you need to know: Supercell teamed up with MrBeast to promote Braw Stars. The video got 100M views in 3 days, but while downloads rose by 27%, revenue remained unaffected.

2. Where Did Everyone Shop This Black Friday?

We wrapped up a massive Black Friday this week, and I wanted to see which app saw the most growth. I'd normally focus the analysis on the Friday, but as I'm sure you've noticed, everything started early this year. I can think of at least 5 reasons why, but that's a whole other thing...

To get a better insight into growth, I analyzed what I think is now the new normal--Black Friday week, which started on Monday 11/22 and ended on Monday 11/29, and I ranked the most downloaded shopping apps by store + combined.

I'm focusing this on the U.S. because Black Friday is mostly a U.S. "holiday", and some of these apps are only available in the U.S.

There's a lot to look at in this table, so here's my quick take:

  • Amazon was the most downloaded shopping app this Black Friday week, adding more than 800,000 new users in the U.S.
  • Walmart was right behind it, adding nearly 700,000 new users in the U.S., which is a slightly faster pace than normal.
  • Android users chose Walmart over Amazon, the exact opposite of what we see on the App Store. Walmart may have spent more on ads there.
  • There's growing interest in Buy Now Pay Later apps, a trend we've seen growing steadily over the last two years. Klarna is the clear winner in that race.
  • Shop continued to be the go-to tool for package tracking, which is great for Shopify because it offers shopping in it. I think they have a lot of work to put in before that part of the app takes off, but the base is there.

Together, the top 10 most downloaded shopping apps in the U.S. saw 4.6 million downloads during the week.

This was an intense and somewhat overwhelming Black Friday season. Tons of emails, lots of push notifications, and many eager sellers. I expect next year to be even worse as more shopping ends up in-app. You've been warned...

What you need to know: The most downloaded shopping app during Black Friday week was Amazon, followed by Walmart. Buy Now Pay Later apps were in high demand, and Klarna is in the lead with 424K new downloads.

Grow Smarter, with Data.

Affordable tools for ASO, Competitive Intelligence, and Analytics.

3. Like Fax But Muuuuuuch Bigger!

Last week I raised a few eyebrows by showing how much money apps used to send and receive faxes make. It wasn't even the revenue but also the massive year-over-year growth.

Get ready to be surprised again!

This week I bring you a category that's more attractive and necessary but still very similar. And, it makes more than 3x the revenue.

No, it's not solitaire. It's scanners.

There are thousands of apps that turn your phone's camera into a document scanner. A useful tool you don't really think about until you need it.

Using Explorer, I focused on document scanner apps that make more than $10,000 of net revenue per month in the U.S., which got me down to 47 apps. That's right, more than 47 different apps make more than a quarter-million dollars every year, each! And that's net revenue -- after giving Apple and Google their fee.

Again, if you think all the opportunities are gone, you're not looking hard enough. Think I should write a guide about how to find opportunities? Let me know

Let's have a look at the numbers because they're impressive.

In January of 2020, the group earned $2.7 million in net revenue in the U.S., according to our App Intelligence. It ended 2020 at $4.1 million in net revenue in the U.S. That's a 52% increase in 2020. Fast forward to November of 2021, the group earned $7.4 million. This is net revenue and only the U.S. an increase of 68% in 2021.


In my experience, these apps are pretty aggressive with their in-app purchases, and they're pretty good at locking things people who are willing to pay need. I'm sure some go beyond that and apply shady tactics because that's pretty normal in utilities these days.

But... that's a lot of money for taking pictures.

What you need to know: Apps used to scan documents and turn them into PDFs grew substantially year over year. The top ones saw revenue increase by 184% to more than $7.4 million in November of 2021.

4. The Other Impact of App Tracking Transparency

App Tracking Transparency, Apple's new requirement that apps and games that use tracking variables ask the user for permission first, has been wreaking havoc on the ad industry since it officially rolled out in April.

I've looked at it from a few angles already, and many others have as well, but while we all talked about apps and games that complied, there wasn't much talk about those who didn't.

So, what happened to those that didn't want to ask users for permission?

Easy! Apple killed them.

The App Store grows at a pretty standard pace of 1% - 2% every month. You can see it pretty clearly in the chart.

Well, almost every month.

In June, about a month after ATT rolled out, and after Apple's warning expired, 420,000 apps and games disappeared. That's a whopping 21% of the App Store. Gone. Just like that.

This sort of natural sweep is something we see every few years on the App Store, so it's not surprising that it happened. But what I do find surprising is the scale. Hundreds of thousands of developers didn't take ATT seriously or didn't care about their apps and games that were feeding 3rd parties party data enough to bother updating them.

This should come as good news to active developers -- there's less competition now.

What you need to know: Apple removed more than 420,000 apps and games that were collecting user data and didn't update to request permission using the new App Tracking Transparency framework earlier this year. Shrinking the App Store by 21%.

5. TikTok is About to Break the App Store

TikTok hit a significant milestone this week that even though I wanted to skip because I've been talking about them a bunch lately, but I just couldn't because it was so massive. For the app and for the state of mobile.

On 11/18, before the Black Friday week, TikTok had a gigantic spike in revenue in the U.S. that's the most revenue the app has EVER seen in a single day. And if you're not new here, that's pretty challenging, considering TikTok's revenue has been growing at a record-setting pace over the last few months.

Net revenue in the U.S. App Store + Google Play hit $2.2 million on Thursday, according to our estimates. Previously, on a great day, TikTok saw a little over a million in net revenue, but never two.

But there's more! Not a record-setting day, but last week TikTok had another great day, that last spike you see in the chart. That spike added $1.6 million in net revenue from the US, which is still around 50% higher than what a spike looked like last month.

That's an incredible rate of growth! I predicted TikTok will become the highest earning app in the U.S. by early 2022, and I'm holding on to this prediction. YouTube has a lot to worry about right now.

By the way, that's the exact opposite trend of Twitch, which had a great 2020 but a pretty lousy 2021 in terms of revenue. More on Twitch next week.

What you need to know: TikTok's revenue hit a new all-time high of $2.2 million in net revenue in the U.S. in a single day. They're on track to become the highest-earning app in the US.

App Intelligence for Everyone!

The insights in this report come right out of our App Intelligence platform, which offers access to download and revenue estimates, installed SDKs, and more! Learn more about the tools or schedule a demo with our team to get started.

Are you a Journalist? You can get access to our app and market intelligence for free through the Appfigures for Journalists program. Contact us for more details.

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.

Related Resources

This Week in Apps - Let's Talk Trends
This Week in Apps
This Week in Apps - Let's Talk Trends

#213 - The most important trend the app industry needs to be aware of, X's mobile revenue is not looking good, the most downloaded and highest-earning apps in the world, and more!

This Week in Apps - Trend Busting
This Week in Apps
This Week in Apps - Trend Busting

#212 - A simple app that makes a million bucks a month, ChatGPT's biggest month, Strava's quiet but massive growth, and more.