This Week in Apps #132 - This Race Isn't Over Yet
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. Mobile Payment App Downloads Grew 78% Since Pandemic Started
A lot of things moved in-app during the pandemic, and while many are now beginning to move back out, making payments is not only staying in-app but is also growing. A lot!
We project September to be the highest month of downloads for the top mobile payment providers in the US, which include Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.
Together, quarterly downloads of the group grew 78% since 2020, from 16 million in Q1 of 2020 to 29 million in Q3 of 2022, according to our estimates.
While all apps grew, not all grew the same.
Zelle, the smallest of the bunch in terms of downloads, saw the most growth in the period, growing a whopping 123%. We estimate Q3 22 downloads to hit 4.9 million.
Cash App, the leader in terms of downloads both before and after, more than doubled as well. We estimate Cash App to hit 12.6 million downloads in Q3, an all-time best.
Venmo and PayPal, two names that are less exciting these days, also grew by an impressive amount. They didn't double, but that just means Cash App is winning this race.
What I'm finding a bit odd is how much emphasis is being put on crypto in an app used by mere mortals, though I suspect its more wishful thinking than real demand for crypto trading.
2. Parler Is Back on Google Play with a New Business Model
Remember Parler, the social media platform that tried to compete with Twitter by allowing everyone to say anything?
In case you don't, a few years ago, after a few politicians were banned from Twitter for saying things that didn't align with Twitter's rules, an unknown app by the name of Parler became popular for not having (m)any rules and for allowing free speech.
Within a few short months, Parler's popularity and downloads rose, to the point its lack of rules became a liability for major App Stores and even for its cloud provider, Amazon, which led to the app losing its servers and also its place on the App Store and Google Play.
It spent a while re-establishing itself and was eventually allowed back into the App Store. By that time, it lost most of its momentum and CEO. Well, a few weeks ago Google finally allowed Parler back into its store.
So, why is this interesting?
Parler was the first in what's now becoming a crowded market of Twitter clones that emphasize free speech as their core philosophy. At its peak, Parler saw more than a million downloads in one day.
After looking at downloads of Truth Social and Rumble a couple of weeks ago, I just had to take a look at what downloads look like now that Parler is officially back.
According to our estimates, Parler's return added about 18,000 new users to the platform. That may sound like a lot, but... it really isn't.
Trump's platform gets that many downloads in a few days and that's only from the App Store because Google hasn't allowed it into its store yet. GETTR is smaller but still bigger than Parler, and Rumble is growing faster than all of them combined.
Also, the bump in downloads sloped down hard within a few days, bringing Parler's daily downloads back into the hundreds, according to our estimates.
Parler seems to understand they may no longer be relevant. I say this because they recently announced the acquisition of a cloud hosting provider and explained they want to become the infrastructure provider to platforms like it, which is an interesting move in a space that so far has not gotten the traction some expected it to.
3. Millions of Downloads Later, Widgets Aren't As Hot This Time Around
Last week I looked at the first day of iOS 16 and its impact on downloads. Now, a week in, I have more data to share to give you an insight into the second wave of demand for widgets and answer the question of whether you should make a widget app too.
(spoiler, you probably shouldn't)
I collected all widgets apps that are currently ranked in the top 100 in the US App Store. There weren't as many as I initially expected and as I remembered from 2020, just four! The first sign this widget wave isn't as big as 2020, and a reason why you shouldn't jump in right now.
Combined downloads for the four apps, which include Widgetable, TopWidgets, Themify, and Widgetsmith just crossed 13,000,000 since iOS 16 launched. That's more than a million new downloads every day. Yes.
That's not as many downloads as I'd expect when comparing to the numbers of 2020. The app seeing this lack of excitement the most is Widgetsmith, which owned 2020. This time around, downloads were a fraction of what it saw when iOS 14 launched.
But there's more!
Widgetable, the app that's currently in the lead, both in terms of downloads and rank, is spending lots of money on search ads. According to our ASA Intelligence (coming soon) the app is bidding on hundreds of keywords, some not even that relevant.
So, if you have time and money to burn you might want to make a widget app. Otherwise, there are better opportunities out there for you.
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4. The NFL Got Into the Streaming Game - How Much is it Making?
There are two big trends we've seen recently. The first is that everyone is getting into the streaming race and the second is that more and more apps are attempting to monetize their users directly.
The NFL leaned into both by introducing NFL+, a new streaming offering that's done direct-to-viewer and not through a third party as it always has.
A big chunk of NFL+ and NFL+ Premium, the two tiers users can subscribe to, is mobile-only, making this a very interesting move in a world normally governed by legacy rights agreements.
The 2022 season kicked off a few weeks ago, which means we should now be able to answer the simple question of whether the NFL is making money as a streamer.
The answer is yes. Of course it is!
According to our estimates, NFL+ and NFL+ Premium have already earned a combined total of more than $10.5 million. And that's net revenue, meaning what the NFL gets to keep after Apple and Google take their share.
86% of that total came from the App Store, which shouldn't come as a surprise at this point, and while almost all of the revenue came from the US, a handful of other countries are showing interest in an American sport by opening their wallets.
Revenue grew gradually before the season started and exploded last weekend. Our estimates show NFL's mobile revenue crossed $1,000,000 on Sunday.
I expect to see more growth here and also more incentives for viewers to move away from third parties and over to the app. What a time to stream!
5. The Lord of the Rings Beats James Bond!
Amazon's latest original series launched this month, and for the first time in what feels like a long time, you can actually see the impact The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is having on downloads.
That's a good thing for Amazon.
Downloads rose to their highest this year on Saturday (9/3), the first weekend after the show's release. In numbers, Amazon added 498 thousand new users on that day, according to our App Intelligence. The previous peak was all the way back in January.
But that was the first weekend...
In its second weekend (9/17, which happened to be my birthday), Amazon's downloads broke the previous week's record with 604 thousand downloads. A new all-time high for Amazon.
Amazon's steady downloads are nice but stem from Amazon's ability to shove its streaming service to Prime members more so than being a popular streaming destination.
Its ability to produce originals that take off was questionable, with a few hits and a bunch of misses, but they seem to be getting more hits.
A few months ago Amazon premiered another exclusive, the latest installment of James Bond, which I thought would be super popular for Amazon's unexciting mobile streaming app. Especially considering this was probably the last time we see the Bond we're used to.
Downloads saw a bump when No Time to Die launched, but not nearly as much as this month thanks to The Ring of Power.
So, either James Bond was not a very exciting movie (it wasn't, even Craig Bond didn't want to do it...) or Amazon learned a thing or three about promoting its content. Maybe both. Either way, the streaming race isn't over just yet.
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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.