This Week in Apps #137 - Mixed Signals
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. Snapchat's App Revenue Is... Stable
A few months ago, Snapchat gave its users the option to pay to get early access to features, and the first month of this new subscription was simply massive.
The first month's haul totaled more than $6,000,000 of net revenue, meaning after Apple and Google's fees. I was surprised by this number when first analyzing it and speculated this wouldn't continue.
That revenue was back in July. Now, several months in, we have a much better trend to look at and the numbers are... Lower + boring.
Recurring revenue, which crossed $6M in July, dropped to $4.8M in August, according to our estimates.
Not bad you might be thinking, but, it really is. Demand for the subscription didn't grow at all, and of the roughly 2.1M subscribers who opted into Snapchat+ early on, 400K chose not to renew.
That's enough people to fill Madison Square Garden 20 times.
There was a teeny tiny bit of growth in September, but not enough to get excited over and October isn't done but so far it's not looking super awesome either.
What's going on? Snapchat's lackluster performance is a combination of a boring offering + an economic crunch that's making silly luxuries like paying to beta test features.
But, this isn't all bad. Snapchat's ability to earn millions without inventing a new service shows the strength and potential platforms have outside of selling ads.
As App Tracking Transparency continues to demolish the industry, being able to monetize in other ways will become a competitive edge for those who do it well. Snapchat is certainly doing better than Twitter. Let's see if the new chief twit can fix that.
2. The Mac App Store is Still Stuck...
For a long time now I've been hoping the Mac App Store will take off. Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic, or maybe it's because I think bringing the App Store and small-screen apps to the desktop will be (r)evolutionary.
So I took a closer look at the store and which apps are in it. I was a bit surprised by the results.
Fun fact - I asked my Twitter followers which category they thought had the most apps and for the third week in a row, most voters (76.6%) were wrong.
According to data from Explorer, which is now accessible to every Appfigures member, the Mac App Store currently contains a little over 31K apps and games.
Not a lot, I know. But we'll get to that soon.
First, I was curious about categories. I didn't expect games to be the dominant category for the simple reason that Macs aren't known as gaming devices. But I wasn't entirely sure what would be the top result.
Utilities, that's the top result with nearly 5.5K apps currently available for download. Followed by games.
There are 5K games in the Mac App Store right now. That's a lot more than I expected! Are they all super popular? Absolutely not. But someone took the time to build them.
Productivity, Education, and Photo & Video complete the top 5 list, all of which make some sense. More than games, for sure.
Knowing the breakdown of what goes into the Mac App Store, I was curious to see how fast the store is growing, and that's when reality hit.
If you're developing for the Mac this might be shocking to you - The Mac App Store sees just 15 new apps every month on average. That's what the App Store, which sees about 1,000 new apps every day, adds in 20 minutes.
I don't think Apple has a plan for the Mac App Store, but I still think there is some potential as soon as Apple starts pushing iOS apps on Apple Silicone. I could be wrong.
3. NFTs Skyrocket Reddit's Mobile Revenue to Highest Ever
Reddit's mobile app topped the charts for a good chunk of days last week. That demand also gave the red alien its biggest day of revenue ever!
What happened? NFTs!
Reddit recently joined the NFT game, and unlike Twitter's controversial NFT integration, Reddit leaped forward and opened an NFT marketplace.
Reddit calls them digital collectible avatars, but they really are NFTs.
The launch offered a selection of avatars based on Reddit's alien mascot from a curated pool of creators picked by Reddit. All sold out almost instantly!
Downloads rose 45% on Sunday as word spread, bringing in nearly 250K users across the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. Demand continued into the week with Monday adding a similar number of new users and Tuesday only dropping by a little bit.
Revenue growth was even more exciting. We estimate that collectible avatars brought Reddit more than $170K of net revenue, meaning after Apple and Google take their fees, on launch day.
Revenue sloped down fairly quickly as the collectibles sold out, but is still high because Reddit isn't just making them available but is also providing the wallets necessary to keep and trade them.
In Total, Reddit's mobile apps were responsible for nearly $500,000 of net revenue, about a fifth of the massive total Reddit earned in and out of the App Store and Google Play.
What's next? Reddit introducing millions of people to NFTs is a big deal. Their choice of not calling them NFTs, a technical term I never really thought could go mainstream, is very clever, and probably has something to do with how successful the launch was. But more than that, it means that just like what Coinbase and Robinhood did for crypto last year, Reddit could do for NFTs now.
Reddit isn't the only marketplace for NFTs in an app, but there aren't that many alternatives. Veve is the biggest such marketplace, and it's trend isn't looking good. Reddit could change that.
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4. NFT Marketplace Veve Collectibles Revenue Down 84% in 2022
Reddit's foray into NFTs within a mobile app is exciting, but they're not the biggest or the highest-earning app to do that. Those two awards go to Veve Collectibles.
Veve was showing massive growth last year, as many companies started surfing the NFT wave.
In November of 2021, Veve earned $29M in net revenue, according to our revenue estimates. That peak was a result of a partnership Veve had with Disney that brought Simpsons and Marvel characters to the marketplace.
Revenue ebbed and flowed after based on the collections offered, and for a hot moment there looked very hot.
So far in 2022, which started with $20M of net revenue, things are no longer looking hot. In fact, they're pretty frozen. In September, net revenue from the App Store and Google Play was just $3M. And no, I didn't forget a zero.
That's a drop of 84%.
The economy isn't making throwing money on digital goods as easy as it did in 2021. Couple that with the decline in crypto and this drop isn't that big of a surprise.
Apple recently changed the rules of the App Store for NFTs, requiring them to go through in-app purchases and pay Apple a fee. Many are up at arms about this, but I think they're wrong.
Apple allowing NFTs through their billing system will add a layer of legitimacy many NFT marketplaces lack. Not because they're all shady, some are not, but because NFTs are misunderstood by the mainstream and most NFT marketplaces use so much jargon it's easier to not think about it.
Being available as in-app purchases means buying an NFT is now as easy as paying for Twitter Blue. Okay, maybe that's not the best example, but you get where I'm going with this. That will be worth the high tax in the short and long term, in my opinion.
5. The First Million - Did Marvel Get Monetization Right with Snap?
Marvel recently launched Snap, a card battler with your favorite MCU characters. Many like Snap's simpler approach to building a deck and shorter games, which make it much more accessible to more casual players.
But many also praise Snap for its balanced monetization, which is unlike many recent game launches.
Can an approach that's loved by players also earn money?
Yes. It sure can!
According to our estimates, Snap has earned $1.4M of net (about $2M gross) revenue from the App Store and Google Play since launching on the 18th.
The majority of the revenue came from the App Store, but Google Play is picking up speed. That's a great sign for a game. By Tuesday, Google Play was responsible for about a third of new revenue, roughly $101K of net revenue vs. $198K from the App Store.
The US contributed 61% of the total with the remaining 39% coming from many other countries led by Japan and South Korea.
With ads becoming more expensive it's important to keep every possible download and turn every casual user into a returning one, a monetization strategy that doesn't force users to pay right away is a very smart approach.
I hope to see more game developers, big and small, realize that.
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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.