This Week in Apps - Collaboration and Competition
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. Notion Exploded in Popularity Last Year
Have you switched to Notion? I have.
When it comes to team collaboration, there are a whole bunch of options, but I'd only call a handful "true" competitors. Google Docs is of course the leader of the group.
Over the last few years, Notion joined the group and is quickly growing. Its fairly unbounded design makes it useful for lots of different purposes, from keeping video scripts organized to running an entire company.
Notion started 2020 with fewer downloads than one of the first apps to go into the App Store, back when real-time collaboration wasn't a real thing. That app is Evernote, and I selected it partially for the nostalgia but also because it was, in my opinion, what kicked off the market Notion is now trying to take over.
And if they had paid attention to the trends, Evernote could have been the collaboration hub...
But this insight is about Notion, which saw massive growth in 2022.
When I say massive I mean monthly downloads peaked at 1.7M in August! That was, by far, Notion's best month of downloads. While downloads returned to "normal" shortly after, the app still saw its best "normal" downloads continue to rise.
Notion ended 2022 with 11.6M new downloads, according to our estimates. That's 30% higher than the downloads in 2021 and a whopping 157% higher than downloads in 2020.
As an early user, I can say the downloads are well-deserved. When I first tried Notion, back when v1 was in beta a whole bunch of years ago, it wasn't a great product and felt like it was built specifically for developers and not for the mainstream. That's no longer the case. At all.
As an active user now, I hope this growth will lead to even more evolution.
2. Indeed Cements its Lead as the Most Popular Job Search App
The job market is in a very strange place right now. On the one hand, lots of people are moving around now that work from home has become a reality for many, while others are scrambling to find a new job after being laid off.
FYI - We're hiring.
While there are a whole bunch of apps that'll help you find a job these days, only one is the clear winner. And that clear winner grew even more in 2022. Enough to say "game over" for the others.
The clear winner is Indeed, which has evolved quite a lot in the last few years.
I compared the downloads of Indeed with those of ZipRecruiter, which is the top search result for "job search" in the App Store right now, and Monster, the most popular name in job search in the old days.
Let's start at the end to build the suspense, or you can just look at the chart, but at the bottom of the list we have Monster. I wasn't surprised to see it there after seeing it's not ranking very well in search results. What did surprise me were the numbers.
Monster saw just 453K new downloads in 2022. Nearly half a million downloads isn't a small number, but when you see the other two apps you'll understand why I say just. It also didn't grow much. While it did grow when compared to 2021, 2020 was higher.
That wasn't the case for ZipRecruiter, which came in second with 2.7M downloads in 2022, according to our estimates.
Both of those, even when combined, pale in comparison to Indeed, which welcomed 17 million new users in 2022. I don't need to calculate the percentage difference for you to see how different these numbers are. Just wow.
But that's not all. When looking at growth, Indeed's downloads exploded in 2022, up 80% year-over-year.
The only other job search app that saw impressive growth in 2022 is LinkedIn, which is more than just a job search app so I didn't include it in this comparison.
Like most other things, job search has moved in-app and Indeed is providing an experience that's easy enough for everyone to use. That's good to know if you're hiring (like us) or if you're looking to get hired.
3. Why is EA Games Shutting Down Apex Legends Mobile?
Earlier this week, EA Games announced its decision to cancel Apex Legends Mobile, a game it released less than a year ago to much fanfare.
The title had a solid release in terms of revenue, which I covered back in June, and according to EA, the cancellation was a result of not being able to ship updates at the right cadence.
The title, which Apple chose as Game of the Year in 2022, earned nearly $5M in net revenue in its first month in the stores, according to our estimates. And that's net, meaning what EA got to keep after paying Apple and Google their fees.
That total grew a bit, to $5.5M, in June, but went on to decline every month after. It ended 2022 with about half the revenue and a very negative trend.
Apex Legends ended 2022 with an estimated $29M of net revenue. Call of Duty Mobile earns that in an average month, according to our App Intelligence
In other words, it just didn't work out...
Which is an interesting and also important development for mobile games. In the last few years, big studios have been perfecting their monetization strategies with some managing to squeeze more while others just annoy players.
What's also interesting is the speed at which this cancellation is happening. EA is removing the game from both the App Store and Google Play and has disabled new purchases.
While abrupt, this move can be seen as the other end of optimizing pricing. Ending a project is hard, but when the numbers just don't work out and there are other opportunities, this is a logical choice.
When you're evaluating your own apps and games, make sure to always look at the market and the competition. You might be seeing growth but competitors are growing faster, or the opposite. Hopefully the opposite. But it's important to keep track of!
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4. Paramount Has a New Plan to Beat Peacock - Will it Work?
Earlier this week, Paramount announced it will be merging its flagship streaming service Paramount+ with Showtime and renaming the resulting app "Paramount + with Showtime".
Yuck for the name, but as a business move, this is a very interesting one that changes the kind of programming the app offers from just on-demand titles to what's known in the TV industry as linear content. Which really means content you have to wait to watch, like old-school TV content.
I covered the state of streaming apps a few weeks ago and it showed Paramount+ growing a lot in 2022 but that it isn't one of the most downloaded apps. Peacock has tight command of that.
But when we look beyond the downloads we see a slightly different picture, and that could be why the two are merging.
Looking beyond downloads means revenue, a metric that "grounds" growth.
Paramount+ and Peacock have been locked in competition since the two got into streaming, but while Peacock has the upper hand when it comes to downloads, Paramount seems to be able to monetize its users much better.
In part, this has to do with Peacock's free tier, but that's not as lucrative these days.
In terms of revenue, Paramount ended 2022 with $146M in net revenue and Peacock with $148M. More, yes, but! When you bring downloads into the equation, everything flips. Paramount+ is monetizing twice as many users, or if we look at it from a pure revenue standpoint, is able to get twice as much money from each of its users.
So, how's this relevant to the merger? Easy - merging an old-fashioned stream of TV content will give users more reason to download Paramount+. And with its ability to monetize well, every download counts.
Unlike cable, where channels come in bundles and both Paramount and NBC are likely in the same bundle and competing for viewership, having to pay per app means a paying user of Paramount+ is more likely to not be a paying user of Peacock. So, good for the bottom line and for hurting the competition.
Sounds like a win-win to me. I just hope they rethink the name... From a pure marketing perspective, such a long name won't give Paramount a lot of opportunity for ASO. Something to keep in mind.
5. Home Automation is Growing Beyond Tinkerers
Home automation, aka being able to turn your lights on from your phone, is quickly becoming mainstream. I say that not because the leader, Samsung SmartThings, was downloaded by 12 million people last year, but rather because a much smaller competitor also grew a lot last year.
That competitor is Home Assistant.
Home Assistant is one of my favorite new apps/platforms. I've been turning my lights on from my phone for many years now -- too many to admit -- and have seen the entire field evolve. Both the hardware and the software around it.
Unlike popular solutions like SmartThings, undoubtedly the leader in the market -- and certainly in downloads -- Home Assistant is the "Android" version of home automation platforms. It's open source, community-driven, works with a variety of integrations, and is not proprietary.
Home Assistant ended 2022 with 156K estimated downloads, its highest quarter of downloads, ever. When compared to Q1 of 2020, quarterly downloads grew 122%.
Nearly half a million people downloaded Home Assistant in 2022. For an open-source solution that requires a bit of tinkering, that's great news. For the industry at large, that means there's more interest in home automation.
Home automation is something Apple supports but so far hasn't really led in any way. The HomePod and AppleTV are both great solutions that can lead the way but Apple's very proprietary platform and lack of interoperability with existing solutions and protocols is a big blocker for adoption.
I expect (and hope) that will change in the future.
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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.