This Week in Apps - What a Start!
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 Blue Launched in Japan - How Many Subscribed?
February is behind us, which means it's time to look at Twitter's mobile revenue! Actually, not this week - I want to look at a specific slice this week.
Twitter Blue launched in Japan on January 11th and costs just a little less than what it costs in the US. Like the US, the price on the App Store is a bit higher than the price of subscribing on the web.
I don't know why Apple isn't saying anything about that... I mean, I get it... But still.
How many mobile subscribers did Twitter add in Japan?
According to our App Intelligence, Twitter earned $150K of gross revenue from the App Store in January. And that's gross, meaning what users paid, and before Apple took its fees.
That's not a lot, and I'm being nice. But that has been the case with Twitter's revenue ever since Blue launched, so it isn't a surprise. It really is hard to get people who used the service for free and see the service as free to pay for something they don't necessarily need.
Backing out the number of subscribers from a single total is a challenge, but I'm going to try it anyway because I'm curious about the scale of adoption. At a rough cost of $10/mo, we're looking at about 15,000 subscribers in month one.
Although not nearly as high as its US numbers, which got close to $2M of net revenue in December, this is a good start for Blue in a non-English speaking country.
Twitter expanded into more countries in February. I'll look at that and at its top-level numbers in the near future (so make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter).
2. New Year's Resolutions Push Audible's Revenue to a New Peak
Earlier this week I wrote a keyword teardown for the keyword "audiobooks". The teardown was inspired by so many people I know vowing to "read" more this year but listening instead, a trend Spotify expected when it got into audiobooks recently.
I was curious to see how big of a trend audiobooks are so I took a look at Audible's App Store revenue. Audible is the biggest name in audiobooks, so if there's a trend we'd see it there.
I've looked at Audible a few times in this series and the trend was always growing, so I expected growth -- but the numbers are higher than I even expected.
Is listening the future for books? Looking at Audible's App Store revenue, the answer is yes.
Audible's App Store revenue grew 19% between January and December of 2022. In more absolute terms, net revenue, which is what Audible (aka. Amazon) gets to keep after Apple's fees, grew from $15M to $18M, according to our estimates.
But then 2023 happened.
I noticed Audible slowly climbing the top grossing chart in the US steadily in January, and the revenue agreed.
Our estimates show Audible's net revenue from the App Store jumping in January to more than $25M.
To put that in context, we're looking at 65% revenue growth year over year. For books.
This trend opens up a few new opportunities for the space. The obvious one is more competition. Spotify has already jumped into this race and others will join as well. And competition will bring variety.
Spotify's pay model, where they're not included in your Spotify subscription, isn't too attractive. That's bound to change as it'll realize it can't compete with Audible. While that's happening, Audible is testing ads within audiobooks, which means we might see a free or free(ish) tier coming in the future.
3. Google Photos Rakes in Big Bucks - Revenue Soars in 2023!
Google Photos is one app I rarely come across when looking for exciting apps or trends. I'm not entirely sure why, but it just hasn't come up.
Until 2023, that is.
Google Photos started 2022 with $6M of net revenue in January in the App Store, according to our estimates. And that's net, meaning what Google gets to keep after giving Apple its share.
By August, net revenue from the App Store grew to $6.4M and by December, the total ballooned to more than $7.5M. 29% growth during 2022. That's some serious growth for a feature that's built into every iPhone...
But don't go just yet! In January of 2023, net revenue from the App Store jumped a whopping 17% from the already-high figure of December to $9M, according to our estimates.
I didn't expect to see such high numbers for an app like Google Photos. Primarily because it's a feature that's already available, but also because Google is Apple's opposite when it comes to data privacy, something I expect iPhone users to keep in mind.
Google must be doing something right!
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4. It's 2023 and AR Hasn't Taken Over the App Store or Google Play (Yet?)
Have you heard anything interesting about AR recently? I haven't... Just a few short years ago, however, Augmented Reality was all the rage.
Apple announced AR in the summer of 2017 as part of iOS11 to much fanfare. If you were there you probably remember how exciting AR seemed. Five years later, is that excitement still going?
I was curious to see how many apps actually use ARKit and ARCore, Apple's and Google's tools for building AR into apps.
Can you guess how many apps use those right now?
23,426 iOS and Android apps use ARKit, ARCore, or Vuforia, a non-native SDK for AR. That's more than I expected, but it's only about 0.4% of all the apps available on the App Store and Google Play right now.
AR hasn't taken over apps, yet, at least.
While the tiny percentage is a direct result of most apps and games not needing AR, the small number of new apps using either of those is also really small and somewhat stagnant.
Maybe AR just isn't meant for our phones? With Apple's AR glasses expected to come out soon AR will play a much larger role in apps. Until they do, I don't think AR will take over.
5. To Video or Not to Video - How Many Apps & Games Have App Preview Videos
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video should be worth at least a thousand pictures, or a million words (depending on your FPS). When it comes to making your app more attractive a video is a great way to show value off quickly and get the download.
Videos aren't nearly as easy to produce which really makes me ask - do app makers actually use them?
I used Explorer to quickly find all the apps and games that have a marketing video and the numbers surprised me a little.
To get an idea of how popular videos are, I looked at the number of apps that have a video right now, broken down by store, category, and popularity.
App Store vs. Google Play
432K apps and games have a video. I watched quite a few and it's really interesting to see how different companies present their apps.
Most of those videos, 362K, belong to apps and games on Google Play. Apple is known for being a lot more strict about preview videos making them more of a challenge to produce so they market the app well because just app UI just isn't enough in my opinion.
This is an impressive number of videos -- more than I expected to see.
When we put these figures in the context of the entire store, things change. 4% of apps in the App Store and 10% of apps on Google Play have a video. And even though I said apps I meant apps + games.
That's not a ton, even on Google Play where it's easier.
Games, Games, Games.
Another way to look at the popularity of videos is by category, and finally, games are at the top of the pile. On the App Store and on Google Play!
Games accounted for 38% of the combined total. Drilling in by store, 45% of all apps with a video were games while on Google Play that number is a tad lower, at 36%.
Education came in at a distant second, followed by utilities, Business, and Music.
Based on these numbers I'd say that if you have a game, a video is most likely expected. That's not as true for apps, so if you're making an app and want to stand out you should consider it, but it's not an absolute must.
Not Just the Popular Kids
And lastly, an obvious question -- are videos reserved for the most popular apps?
I used total ratings as a gauge for the popularity of an app and summed up all apps and games with a video into groups.
Looking at the distribution, it's very obvious the answer is no. Apps across the board have videos. Apps with fewer than 1,000 ratings accounted for 75% of the total. On the other end of the extreme were apps with more than a million ratings. Those accounted for less than half of a percent.
"Videos are only for popular apps" isn't a good excuse.
Should you experiment with a video for your app? Probably. For your game? Absolutely.
What's your experience with videos?
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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.