This Week in Apps - Slowing Down
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.
1. Twitter's App Revenue Grew a Whopping 1,829% in 2022
December is behind us, which means it's time to continue the tradition and look at Twitter's app revenue.
Although revenue didn't grow as much in December as it did in November, it still managed to grow double digits. Well, low double digits.
Twitter's net revenue from in-app purchases in its iOS and Android apps reached $1.9M in December, according to our estimates. And that's net, meaning after Apple and Google take their fees.
Twitter started the year with $244K of net revenue, according to our estimates. Yes. Just a couple hundred.
Twitter managed to earn $7.9M in net revenue in 2022, up from just $409K in 2021. Granted, it only started collecting in October so it didn't have too much time to earn. That's still a big jump.
I know there's a decent amount of chaos surrounding Twitter right now, which I'm choosing to ignore because I don't think it'll lead to its demise. 3rd party apps being blocked is a mistake, but let's see how that shakes out...
Zooming out a bit, it's pretty clear apps that used to be free (with ads) moving to having some sort of revenue-earning mechanism is a real trend. I expect to see more popular, and even less popular apps, roll our revenue models in 2023. And that's good for everyone.
FYI - A more in-depth report will be coming out soon.
2. App Developers Slow Down in 2022
I'm working on a new report that digs into the evolution of the App Store and Google Play in 2022. It's not done yet, but I have an interesting insight to share.
I looked at the number of apps and games released by iOS and Android developers in 2022 and to my surprise, 2022 saw a sharp decline in releases on both the App Store and Google Play.
According to the numbers, which I pulled using Explorer, app makers shipped (and the stores accepted) a little over 1.6M mobile apps and games to the App Store and Google Play.
1.2M of those were Android apps and games shipped to Google Play and a little over 400K made their way into the App Store.
You might be surprised by the difference in scale, but that's pretty normal and has been the case for many years now.
1.6M might seem like an impressive number, too. That's about 3 new apps every minute!
But... That's about 12% lower than 2021.
New app releases ebb and flow, but so far the biggest drop was around 3% back in 2019 while 2020 and 2021 saw growth.
Here's the thing - this isn't bad news. At all. This is maturity. If you have an app out there, now's the best time to push it.
3. More People Turned to Mobile Apps to Buy a Car Last Year Than Ever Before
Buying a car can be a pretty lengthy and not always simple experience. That's the status quo apps like Carvana were set out to change by making car shopping happen right from your phone.
If you ask me, that's a pretty ambitious (read, unrealistic) goal, so when I saw news of Carvana's stock plummeting recently, I wasn't too surprised. Many of its competitors are seeing the same trend.
But downloads tell a different story.
To see if people care about buying cars via app, I rounded up the top contenders which include Carvana, CarMax, CarGurus, and Cars.com. They differ a tiny bit in how they operate, but all have the same goal - put users behind the wheel with minimum interaction.
The group took a small hit in downloads due to covid lockdowns, but rebounded right away, making their way into 8.5M devices in 2021, up from 7.7M in 2020.
In 2022, that number ballooned to 10M. That's right, 25% growth, and (low) double-digit new shoppers in 2022.
A lot of shopping has gone in-app during the pandemic for the sheer convenience (and variety, and prices, but that's less relevant). Can car shopping also make this leap?
Looking simply at stock prices the answer is no, but it's also possible there's a delay in adoption? That could make all those stocks great buys. It could also mean a lot of window shoppers.
Note: I'm not a financial advisor so don't bet your money based on this insight.
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4. Zoom Has a Problem Called Microsoft Teams
What do you use for meetings? I bet most of you are using Zoom, Slack, or Teams. Zoom doesn't exactly compete with Slack and Team, but they do overlap, and not by a little.
Although Zoom is, by far, the leader of the three, looking at downloads over the last few years, it seems the lead could be shifting in 2023. For the first time ever.
Looking at downloads of the three, it's hard to not marvel at pandemic downloads of Zoom, which, according to our estimates, made its way into more than a billion mobile devices since 2020.
Zoom's downloads have been on the decline since 2020 but it's still the most downloaded app of the trio.
On the other extreme, we have Slack, which grew a bit in 2022, but overall is an order of magnitude smaller than Zoom and Team.
Microsoft Teams is unlike both.
Unlike Zoom, downloads of Teams are pretty consistent. And unlike Slack, Team's downloads are not that far off when compared to Zoom.
In 2022, Zoom saw 216M downloads vs. Team's 137M. But at the rate of decline for Zoom, by the end of 2023 it's very possible that Team's consistency will outperform Zoom. And with no other obvious competitor in sight, this is Team's race to win.
5. Disney Parks Are Back in Business
I love proxying IRL interactions through app downloads, and this week I have an interesting one for you.
Using downloads of the My Disney Experience, the app those attending Disney parks usually download, it looks like 2023 is going to not only be back to normal but potentially even beat pre-covid attendance.
According to our estimates, the app has reached pre-covid downloads in December, with daily downloads topping 80K per day.
That's where downloads were in February of 2020, before covid shut down most IRL things, including the smiling mouse.
Downloads dropped by a factor of 10 and although they've been showing signs of growth in 2021, the return to normal is finally visible at the end of 2022.
Keep in mind, not every download is a visitor and not every visitor downloads the app, so this is a loose proxy. It's still a good proxy. And if we consider other IRL apps that are making a comeback post-covid, this growth is unlikely to stop when pre-covid levels are met.
I expect to see downloads, and visits, grow a lot in 2023, the year things "really" go back to normal.
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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.