This Week in Apps - Millions of Downloads

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read 4/14/23

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.

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In This Edition

  • The Million Downloads club
  • The Most Downloaded Apps
  • The Most Downloaded Games
  • What happened to Mastodon?
  • Remember BeReal?


1. How Many Mobile Apps and Games Get 1M+ Downloads Every Month?

A few days ago I polled my Twitter followers and asked how many apps and games they thought get more than 1,000,000 downloads per month on the App Store and Google Play.

The popular opinion was that fewer than 500 apps and games are in the 1M+ club.

That's actually incorrect. The real number is higher!

I used Explorer to find all the mobile apps and games that get at least 1 million downloads every month across the App Store and Google Play and that search resulted in 1,305 apps and games.


Instagram and TikTok lead the way, of course, and if you're reading our Most Downloaded series, you know a handful of others, but let me shed some more light on those millionaires for you.

Most of those apps and games, 1,136 to be precise, reside on Google Play. The App Store has just 169 apps that cross the threshold. That's nearly a 10x difference. Given Android's international footprint, this isn't as surprising, but still very interesting to keep in mind as you develop -- don't ignore Android.

Games are where the downloads are. 52% of all apps in the list are games, and within games, Google Play wins again with 94% of games. If you're publishing a game, don't ignore Android.

You might be thinking, "but there are more apps and games on Google Play so that's why". Keep in mind, we're looking at apps and games getting more than a million downloads every month. More apps being available would just make rising to the top harder, so that's not it.

Downloads don't mean revenue. I'll be looking at that in the near future and there the results will be very different. Stay tuned.

2. Where Did Facebook Go? The Most Downloaded Apps in the World

March is behind us so I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded apps in the world. I know many of you have been waiting for me to say that for the last few months!

Instagram and TikTok continue to top the list, but there are a few interesting trends I noticed, and some are related. Let's jump right in.

Instagram was the most downloaded app in the world in March, making its way into 50M more iOS and Android devices, according to our estimates. It beat rival TikTok by a handful of downloads, but the ranks could easily flip in April.

CapCut, TikTok's complimentary video editor, is the one app I've been keeping an eye on for a while, and we're finally seeing its expansion. We'll get back it in a moment.

Facebook and WhatsApp in 3rd and 4th complete the Meta Trio. Once interesting insight here is that if you look at the list on the App Store you won't find Facebook anywhere in the top 10. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's following this series...

Facebook's downloads and rank started dropping towards the end of 2022 and even disappeared once or twice. It came back before, but looking at this trend, I think it may not this time.

Replacing Facebook, on the App Store, is Google, which owns 5 of the top 10 most downloaded apps in the App Store.

And finally, rounding out the top 5, is CapCut. I only expect to see it rising in rank in the future.

Spotify and SHEIN squeezed into the list in March as well. The two have appeared on the list before, but not often.

You may be surprised Temu hasn't made the list. Keep in mind, this list looks at global downloads, and Temu isn't focused on any market other than the US. So it's getting quite a few downloads -- 9M in March from both platforms -- it isn't enough to make it into the global list.

Together, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world across the App Store and Google Play saw 308M downloads, according to our estimates. That's a tad shy of last March, but not enough to cause concern considering the top results are almost identical.

And if you're looking for the most downloaded games, here we go!

3. Heypercasual Games Get Ready for the Summer - The Most Downloaded Games in the World

I rounded up the numbers and ranked the most downloaded games in the world, now that March is done, and I have to start this one in reverse because the numbers tell a story.

In March, our estimates show that the top 10 most downloaded games saw 125M collective downloads from the App Store and Google Play worldwide. Comparing this to last March, that's roughly 40M downloads lower. That's 24%, which isn't a small number.

Games are heavily driven by ads, especially the hypercasuals, and this is another reminder of the earthquake that is App Tracking Transparency and possibly why French regulators are starting to investigate its impact.

On to the list!

Subway Surfers was the most downloaded mobile game in the world in March. The long-term king of this list made its way into 20M new iOS and Android devices in March, according to our App Intelligence. It's worth noting Subway Surfers was the most downloaded game on the App Store and on Google Play in March.

If you go through the winners every month over the last year, which you can do here, you'll see the balance shifting away from hypercasual titles to incumbents as advertising budgets shift.

Speaking of incumbents, Roblox and Candy Crush Saga follow Subway Surfers with 14M and 13M downloads, respectively, according to our estimates.

Two hypercasual titles follow behind rounding out the top 5. There are more hypercasual titles in this list than I expected to see but then I remembered spring break is in March and it made more sense.

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4. Mastodon Didn't Replace Twitter...

Last week I posted some numbers about Twitter's growth that caused a small rumble on Twitter. That whole thing made me think about everyone who left Twitter for Mastodon and I wanted to see if that trend is still going.

It isn't.

Since launching in mid 2021, Mastodon's own app was downloaded a little over 4M times from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. The App Store led by a bit, but overall the downloads were fairly even.

Before Twitter became news, the Mastodon app was seeing a couple hundreds downloads a day, on average. When Elon took over downloads rose sharply and into the tens of thousands just to jump into the hundreds of thousands a few days later.

At its peak, back in November of 2022, the Mastodon app was downloaded 338K times across the App Store and Google Play. That's quite a few, but the joy was short-lived. Downloads dropped below the 100K line within two days and continued to drop into the single-digit thousands a few days later.

The trend continued to slow down in 2023 and as of this week, daily downloads are averaging 1,700. Higher than where it started, but not high enough to suggest it's the future.

Two things before you start telling me I'm wrong - the first is that Mastodon isn't the only client for Mastodon, it's just the official one. I know that. I also know the downloads of the others and they're low enough that they woudn't change this chart. The second is that I'm not trying to hate on Mastodon here at all.

I think beating Twitter at being Twitter isn't easy. Beating Instagram at Instagram isn't easy either, and the same can be said about any established platform these days. Mastodon was a clunkier, more complicated, and less cohesive version of Twitter - not a replacement.

Beating Elon will require building something else, better, different, new. In a way, I'm pretty sure that what X intends to be...

5. BeReal Continues to Grow - Slower, Much Slower, But Still Growing

One thing I like about the "new" Hipstamatic app is its BeReal-like feature that challenges me to take a picture at a set time. Unlike BeReal, it's not the only feature of the app and it does it in a way that feels more organic by giving me a reason + more time.

Seeing that made me think back to BeReal, the app that made on-command picture taking popular last year and to see if it ever evolved beyond the one feature.

It didn't and the popularity it had is long gone, but while the trend looks grim the reality isn't.

Let's go back to the beginning. BeReal's popularity started rising 2021. Monthly downloads grew from a monthly average of under 1,000 in 2020 to more than 200,000 in May and 300K in December of 2021, according to our estimates. Growth didn't stop there.

Between January and September of 2022, BeReal's monthly downloads grew from around 600K to more than 14M in September. Yes, downloads grew more than 13x in 9 months. Aaaaand, the app itself hasn't really evolved.

And worse, it didn't find a way to make money!

September was BeReal's peak, and a downward trend followed. By December, downloads dropped to 6M and in March of 2023 that number got cut in half again to just 3M.


This all sounds like a big missed opportunity, and it probably really is, but let's think about this - an app that commands you to take a selfie once a day with a 2-minute timer is getting 3M downloads per month. That's still incredible.

Compare that to Hipstamatic, a full-fledged camera app with filters and features and a subscription and 22K downloads since the relaunch.

BeReal got those same number of downloads in about 6 hours.

I'm not sure what the team running BeReal is doing right now, but if they try, there's a lot more they can get from what they've built.

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.

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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.

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