This Week in Apps #118 - Making a Comeback or Going Away?
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.
Games Download Index (US · 30 Day)
Tip: Click on underlined app names for more information.
1. Is Anonymous Messaging Making a Comeback?
This week, an app by the name of NGL ascended to the top of the App Store in the US. Much like the overnight successes we've been seeing so much of this year (Poparazzi, BeReal, and LocketWidget, to name a few), it happened, pretty much, overnight.
Downloads of NGL, which stands for not gonna lie, grew by a ridiculous 41,500% this week. Up until last week, the seven-month-old app was lucky to get a thousand downloads a week. On Tuesday, it scored 125,000 new downloads, according to our estimates.
More downloads came from Google Play than from the App Store, but not by much. I expect that to remain the case if NGL is to continue with this popularity. Egypt was the country with the most downloads, beating the US by more than twice. Romania also beat the US in terms of downloads.
Wait, what is NGL??? It's an anonymous messaging app that wants to be used through Instagram and is promoted as a safe space for teens. I don't think Instagram + teens + anonymous can ever be considered safe. But that's what NGL claims.
A few years ago, anonymous messaging apps were all the rage. But they all, in their own way, turned into a hot mess of bullying and harassment and shut down because they couldn't fight it. Yik Yak, the poster child, is trying to make a comeback. In May, Yik Yak added fewer downloads than NGL added on Tuesday, so I'm not sure if this comeback is actually working...
The door for anonymous messaging closed a while back. Until moderation isn't a thousand times better, it's only a matter of time until the window NGL is hoping is still open closes.
2. Uber and Lyft Beat Covid and Set New Download Records
I've been following the IRL app club closely for a while now. The club is made up of apps that connect us to the "real" world, like Airbnb, Ticketmaster, and other apps that suffered when lockdowns put the "real" world out of range for many of us.
If you've been following the newsletter for a while, you know that most of the club members have managed to not just return to their former download levels but also beat them. For the last few months, both Uber and Lyft have also done that.
Uber's downloads dropped by more than 70% in 2020. They started rising this March and hit a new all-time high just last week. According to our estimates, Uber's iOS and Android apps were downloaded 567,000 times in the US last week. That's nearly 400% more than covid times. But more realistically, it's about 50% higher than pre-covid levels.
Lyft is trending a bit lower but has also seen a massive increase in downloads over the last few weeks. Downloads rose more than 280% since hitting rock bottom in 2020. Last week, Lyft managed to find its way into more than 338,000 devices in the US, according to our estimates.
As a New Yorker, Uber and Lyft have become my primary mode of transportation. Not that I like the reliance. I really don't. But there aren't many acceptable options right now. Looking at these numbers, I'm clearly not the only one. I don't think this trend is going away any time soon, so I expect a more fierce competition between these two rivals.
This competition won't be cheap, so I'm not expecting they'll be getting any cheaper.
3. Netflix Games Pick Up Serious Steam in May
Netflix has been a game developer for almost a year now. Can you believe it?
Combined downloads of those games crossed 10 million just before the summer officially started, which means... Netflix is probably not stopping any time soon. But... Is Netflix really good at making games, or are the games coasting on brand recognition?
Let's have a look at which games are being downloaded the most. I think that will help us get a better understanding.
I used Explorer to find every game Netflix currently has in the App Store and Google Play and then used download estimates between May and mid-June to rank them.
In that time alone, the collection, which spans 20+ titles, was downloaded 2.4 million times. Nearly 25% of all downloads since inception. In a month and a half.
Stranger Things 1984 was the most downloaded game in this period, adding 462K new downloads to the total, according to our estimates. Stranger Things 3 wasn't far behind, in 4th place with 304K downloads.
It's clear that the big names are drawing the downloads. And by that, I mean Stranger Things, undoubtedly one of the best things Netflix has ever produced (except for season 2). You might look at Asphalt Xtreme, the second most downloaded game in the collection, and say downloads aren't just coming because of the name.
I almost fell for that, but then I looked at the trend, and Asphalt Xtreme had a short burst in late May while Stranger Things has managed to maintain a consistent daily average that's considerably higher.
So, is Netflix doomed? Not at all.
Many games exist for their IP alone and do very well. Netflix struck gold with many of its shows and movies, and leveraging those into games is a great move. I suspect Netflix is looking at the same numbers, so in the future, we'll be seeing more branded games and less just games.
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4. Data Confirms - Crypto Winter Has Been a Long Time Coming
The value of Bitcoin continued to drop this week, almost dipping below $20,000 for the first time in a long time. Many were surprised by the collapse of crypto in the last month and didn't see it coming.
If you look at downloads, however, this shouldn't have been a surprise at all. People lost trust in crypto a long time ago and stopped downloading crypto trading apps...
To show you what I mean, I looked at combined download estimates of Coinbase, Binance, Crypto.com, and Trust. The most popular crypto trading apps.
In November, when Bitcoin was at its peak, the four apps saw more than 4 million downloads every week, according to our app intelligence. By February, weekly downloads were down to about half, or just 2 million. Bitcoin was down, but not by that much at that point, so the drop in downloads was, in my opinion, due to the lack of interest from mere mortals.
That was February...
The entire cryptosphere has taken a severe beating in the last month, and so have the downloads. Last week, downloads barely crossed the one million mark. Our estimates put last week at 1.2 million, to be more precise. This time, I think it'd be hard to blame lack of interest...
Winter is indeed coming for crypto, and this one's going to be cold.
5. Etsy Hits Highest (Ever) Off-Season Downloads
Shopping has become one of the most popular activities done on our mobile devices. From clothes to groceries, the convenience of shopping by phone is uncontestable when you look at the downloads (or the number of Amazon boxes I see everywhere).
But it's not just traditional shopping that's growing.
That demand doubled its downloads and got it its first million-download month.
It's been growing ever since, and in December of 2021 hit its highest-ever month of downloads, adding 2.3 million new users, according to our download estimates. It's come a long way.
In 2020 it was demand for masks that was responsible for Etsy's growth. In December, it was the holiday rush. This makes sense.
There's not much exciting in demand right now, but! Etsy has hit its highest number of downloads for a non-shopping season in April and then beat it in May, adding roughly 4.3 million new users in those two months. We estimate April brought in 2.1 million downloads and May 2.2 million from the App Store and Google Play.
For a ten-year-old app, this type of growth is quite impressive! It reminds me a lot of how eBay turned everyone into a bidder in the 90s. A feeling of nostalgia. I just hope Etsy doesn't stumble like eBay.
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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.