This Week in Apps - Looking for Stability?

Ariel Ariel
7 minute read 11/11/22

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. Download Index (YTD)

App Store
132.49 +44.4%
Google Play
70.67 +13.2%

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1. Where Facebook is (Still) On Top - The Most Downloaded Apps in October

Now that October is all done, and that I've looked at numbers related to the Twitter madness that's taken over the news cycle, I can go back to looking at something stable.

I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded apps in the world in October, and stability is the first thing I see here.

Let's take a closer look at October's winners.

TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world in October. It added 53 million new users for a total of 540M new users so far in 2022, according to our estimates. Yup, that's quite a few!

Chief rival Instagram was right behind it, again, even though TikTok is still banned in India and Instagram isn't. Meta's leader saw 49 million new downloads in October, beating sibling Facebook, which added 42 million downloads.

WhatsApp and CapCut, one from Meta and another from TikTok, round out the top 5. TikTok and Meta have clear control of downloads, which is a bit frightening.

Comparing this list to last month's, there wasn't a lot of movement. If you don't look too closely, it actually looks like there was no movement at all.

We estimate that together, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world made their way into 339M devices in October. That's a smidge higher than September, but as has been the case in the last few months, nothing to write home about.

2. Which Social Platforms Grew the Most In the Last Few Years? Not Snapchat...

A lot has changed for social platforms over the last few years, and the trend is clearly visible when looking at downloads.

I rounded up the most popular names in social media and plotted their downloads over time going all the way back to 2018 to give you an idea of how the entire segment is performing.

Adding up the downloads of Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, the trend is positive. Between January of 2018 and October of 2022, monthly downloads for the group are up 50%. In more absolute terms, downloads have gone from around 14 million to more than 20 million.

That means demand for social media is on the rise, which makes sense. But when we look at individual trends we see a much different story.

Looking at growth for each app, it's clear there's one winner, and that's TikTok, which grew its downloads 368% since 2018. The most in the group, and by far.

Second place might be a bit of a surprise --Twitter. That's "thanks" to all the turbulence it's been going through recently. Twitter's growth was mostly flat for almost the entire four-year period, but ended October with a massive spike which nets out to 94% growth.

I'd ignore the spike if I thought it was temporary, but even though Twitter seems like a hot mess right now I do believe it'll normalize soon.

Instagram saw some growth, but compared to TikTok, its 11% is really nothing to brag about. At least it isn't negative like Facebook and Snapchat. Both saw downloads drop.

I have a feeling the trends we're seeing now, including TikTok continuing to grow, Instagram "existing", and Facebook slowly fading, will continue into 2023.

3. A Bit More Casual - The Most Downloaded Mobile Games in October

I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded mobile games in the world for October, and it's safe to say ATT's impact continues to be obvious. Luckily games do better on Google Play anyway...

Subway Surfers was the most downloaded mobile game in the world in October, welcoming 25 million new users, according to our estimates. It wasn't the most downloaded game on either store, but it added up to take the crown overall.

Last month I noted that while Subway Surfers owned the #1 position since April its downloads are dropping, and this month continues that drop.

Overall, October's list contains most of the titles September's list had, but the order is very different.

The only notable insight here is that Marvel Snap, a new card battler launched in October, made its way into the top list on the App Store. Snap is a little different than other card battlers and could be a game-changer in the long term. I'm keeping an eye on it.

According to our App Intelligence, the most downloaded games saw a total of 154M new downloads in October worldwide. A touch lower than September's total, but not by a noticeable amount overall. That should change as we head into the holiday season.

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4. Millions of US Shoppers Downloaded This New Chinese Shopping App

Fast fashion, also known as cheap fashion, has been gaining momentum over the last few years. That market generally belongs to apps from Chinese companies or companies with a base in China and isn't known for quality but rather silly-low prices. And not just for clothes.

Apps like Wish and Shein have made headlines for selling things for dirt cheap, and also for getting a lot of downloads.

A new player joined this game in September and already managed to make its way into millions of devices, and guess what, it's also coming from China!

The app is Temu, and it's been one of the top apps in the US App Store for quite a while now. It's the #3 most downloaded app in the US App Store right now.

According to our estimates, Temu was downloaded by more than 4.7 million people since launching two months ago. While the app is available globally and has downloads in many countries, the majority of those, more than 98%, came from the US.

I was curious to see if Temu got those downloads organically or not, so I took a quick peak at our Apple Search Ads Intelligence dashboard for Temu and can you guess what I'm going to say?

Temu buys a lot of keywords! We saw ads for Temu in more than 1,700 keyword searches since the app launched in September. This growth isn't organic, and it's cheap...

Pinduoduo, the company behind Temu, is an ecommerce giant in China, so it can afford that. It's offering mega bargain prices for a variety of items -- prices that look too good to be true -- as an experiment to cut out the middleman and connect Chinese sellers with US consumers directly.

At a glance, cheap goods sound great, but is it?

Wish, a similar app with a similar offering, sells absolute trash and knock-offs to the point where some countries had to ban it entirely. In countries where it isn't banned, like the US, consumers end up with stuff that's terrible at best.

Temu joins this growing trend of money burning for the sake of saving, and with the holiday shopping season starting right about now, I foresee this trend continuing and Temu gaining even more downloads as it continues to push hard on ads.

5. Gas, the Overnight Sensation, is Actually Making Money

I've been following Gas, an anonymous messaging app for kids I expected to disappear as quickly as it appeared. But I was wrong. Very wrong.

Instead, Gas has stayed at the top of the App Store in the US, the only place you'll find it, for weeks now. Can those downloads be organic? I don't know, but something feels off to me.

Anyway, that isn't why I bring it up...

Gas gained momentum very quickly and topped the charts seemingly overnight. That's nothing new, a bunch of apps did that this year. Some for just a few days (MD Vinyl) while others enjoyed a longer run (BeReal).

But in both cases, while the downloads were high revenue wasn't. That's what's interesting about Gas.

According to our estimates, Gas just crossed a big milestone -- $3,000,000 of net revenue, which means what Gas gets to keep after paying Apple's fees. That's about 3 million more than I'd expect Gas to be earning...

It's too early to tell if the success Gas is seeing is a sign of anonymous messaging becoming a trend again, after disappearing just a few years ago, but that's not what matters here. Having a clear business model and a way to monetize that isn't based on selling ads from the get-go makes a real difference.

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.

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