This Week in Apps #120 - Let's Roam Around the Cabin
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)
1. Demand for Car Rental Apps Hits All-Time High
Summer is finally here, and with it, something many of us have been missing for the last few years. Travel!
Car rental via app has been around for a long time thanks to pioneers like Zipcar but really started taking off just a few short years ago. In Q2 of 2022, downloads hit a new all-time high, beating the previous all-time high set all the way back in 2019.
I added up the downloads of the leading car rental apps in the US, which include popular names such as Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, and SIXT, and also mixed in app-only platforms Zipcar, Getaround, and Turo. Together, the group saw a total of 2.7 million new downloads in Q2 in the US, according to our estimates.
Turo was, by far, the most in-demand option, earning roughly a third of all downloads after seeing downloads double quarter over quarter.
Turn is a service that lets car owners, usually of higher-end and exotic types, rent their cars out to app users (aka. strangers) for short periods. Very different than the traditional car rental model. Getaround does something similar but for regular cars and is also one of the top downloads of this group.
Are traditional car rental companies obsolete? Not yet, but having used both in the recent past, I prefer the non-traditional option for its simplicity and speed. I expect more people to do that in the future, forcing traditional rental companies to evolve.
2. Airline Cancellations Drive Millions of App Downloads
Everyone I talk to who traveled by plane recently had to mention how their flight was canceled at least twice and the horrors associated with planning around that. While that's terrible, this sort of headache for passengers is creating an interesting opportunity for airlines.
Most airlines communicate cancelations and flight changes via their apps, making them indispensable for flying. And the more people flying, the more downloads we're seeing.
Monthly downloads of the most popular airlines in the US, which include Delta, JetBlue, American, United, Southwest, and Spirit, rose 320% since 2021, according to our estimates. The group went from 1.4 million downloads in January of 2021 to 5.9 million in June of 2022.
And to compare apples to apples, June of 2021 saw 3 million downloads, still about half of this year.
While many of those downloads resulted in more anger than excitement, the download opens a channel to those customers, which airlines can leverage in the future using a variety of incentives to drum up more travel business. Once things get better, that is.
3. Travel Booking Apps Reach New Highs
Airlines and travel booking apps aren't identical, but like airlines, demand for booking apps hit a whole new kind of high in Q2 of this year. And the numbers are just massive!
I rounded up the top travel booking apps in the US, which include Booking.com, Expedia, Hopper, Hotels.com, and Priceline, and looked at their downloads going all the way back to 2018. Looking at the trend, 2022 is the best year in downloads this group has ever seen!
In Q1 of 2022, the group added 9.1 million new downloads from the App Store and Google Play in the US. This was the most downloads in a single quarter all the way up until we had Q2's results. In Q2 of 2022, the group saw 13.7 million new downloads.
While the trend isn't surprising, after all, most of us have been stuck at home for too long and are itching to get out. But what is interesting is the number, which I'm not expecting to go down in Q3, cementing the notion that these sort of transactions, which tend to have a high monetary value, can be conducted via app.
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4. Clubhouse is No More? Slowest Month Since Peak
Remember audio-first (aka only) social network Clubhouse? If you don't, I won't be surprised. A year ago, Clubhouse was one of the hottest names in social media,– but a year later, downloads show that excitement is almost all gone.
According to our estimates, in June of 2021, Clubhouse had its biggest month of downloads, adding 8.7 million new downloads for its iOS and Android apps. This wasn't Clubhouse's first spike, but it was by far the biggest stemming from the release of the long-awaited Android app a month before, which led to renewed interest in the platform.
In June of 2022, a mere twelve months later, downloads were down a whopping 95%to just 332 thousand, according to our estimates.
What's interesting is that Clubhouse's decline isn't necessarily a signal that interest in the medium is gone. Not exactly, at least. While Clubhouse was busy raising money and not growing its platform, the bigwigs were busy cloning it into their existing platforms.
Those platforms already have users giving creators an audience they don't have to wait for Clubhouse to build. Twitter's Spaces has momentum now, Reddit Talk is getting more updates, and almost every other platform has some sort of audio-only mode now + some sort of monetization for creators, greatly diminishing the first-mover advantage Clubhouse has for all but a moment.
I've said it many times before and I'll say it again, it's creators that platforms are fighting over right now. The platform(s) that offer the best opportunities – audience and monetization tools – will win.
5. Reddit Goes Down and Downloads Go Up
Reddit had a pretty big week in downloads. And when I say pretty big I mean really big! The platform saw downloads rising to the highest they've been this year. Oh, and also the highest they've ever been!
Reddit's downloads have been on the rise for much of the month but really kicked into high gear on Saturday into Tuesday, where the app added more than 1.5 million downloads, according to our estimates. Reddit added 430 thousand downloads on Tuesday alone.
For context, it added 240 thousand downloads on an average Tuesday earlier in the month, which was already higher than the average, and an average of 130 thousand on average in April.
I'm not entirely sure what caused this spike, but I know that Reddit's website went down hard with an ugly 504 error message, something I didn't expect to see from Reddit but felt very nostalgic. But it makes sense – If the site's down, use the app. Simple.
I also know Reddit recently announced an update to Reddit Talk, its Clubhouse competitor, but that update is going to the website and isn't out yet, so I'm pretty sure that's unrelated.
Do you know what caused the spike?
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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.