This Week in Apps - It Happened!
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.
In This Edition
- Twitter's duality
- The most downloaded apps in the world
- The most downloaded games in the world
- Winning (more) with AI
- The NBA's best season
1. Twitter Hits Peak Revenue As Downloads Continue to Drop
2023 has been a very strong year in mobile revenue for Twitter. The last time I looked at revenue, in March, Twitter hit a new all-time high.
Now that April is behind us, let's have a look at Twitter's revenue from the App Store, where most of its revenue is coming from, and see where it's heading.
It's heading up high!
According to our estimates, Twitter's App Store revenue continued to grow in April and hit a new peak of $3.5M. And that's net, meaning what Twitter gets to keep after giving Apple its share.
This new haul is 13.5% higher than March, which is a pretty decent growth rate. It's not breaking any speed records, but it's also very healthy and far better than what we've seen from Twitter pre-Elon.
I know Elon is very controversial and I'm sure someone will point out how this revenue isn't worth the drop in advertiser revenue. If I looked at Twitter's overall revenue this would be an interesting argument, but I'm only focused on app revenue because that journey is fairly new to a platform like Twitter and will likely serve as the template for other companies.
So far this year, Twitter's mobile revenue grew 118%, according to our estimates.
But that's only one half of the story. The good half...
In downloads, Twitter's trend is heading in the other direction. Down.
According to our estimates, Twitter's iOS app made its way into 3.8M iOS devices in April.
Twitter is plenty popular on Android but to align with where revenue is coming from, I'm only looking at the App Store here.
That's a decent amount of downloads, but it's 17% lower than March. When compared to January, the drop is even higher -- 32%.
Completely ignoring politics, Elon's direction, or the latest competitor trying to take users away, growing revenue while downloads are dropping isn't bad. At all.
A big userbase of non-paying users can be a goldmine when monetized correctly, and a good reminder to developers that if you're not thinking about monetization, regardless of which stage you're in, you're leaving money on the table.
2. It Finally Happened - The Most Downloaded Apps in April
April is over, which means it's time to crunch the numbers and rank the most downloaded apps in the world for the month. And I don't want to say "I told you so", but I definitely called this one!
Let's start at the top and then get to the interesting one.
Instagram, not very interesting, was the most downloaded app in the world in April, just like in March. It ended April with 44M new downloads from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates.
Archnemesis TikTok wasn't right behind it, as expected. Instead, sibling Facebook was, ending the month with 38M downloads, according to our App Intelligence (which you can use to get estimates for any app).
Instagram and TikTok have been a pair for so long I was forced to go back through all of the Most Downloaded articles and find a time they weren't. That took me all the way back to March of 2021.
But don't worry, TikTok was right behind Facebook with 37M downloads in April, according to our estimates.
WhatsApp and CapCut round out the top 5 for April across both stores, adding 31M and 27M new users to their pools, according to our estimates.
I've been watching CapCut for quite some time now, waiting for it to rise to dominance. Why? Because the video editor market is full of money and there aren't that many competitors.
There are a few established names like Facetune and Splice that rake in millions, and CapCut can easily take over all of that thanks to its sibling TikTok.
CapCut was the most downloaded app on the App Store in April, adding almost half of its downloads from there and slowly rising up the revenue charts as well. I expect it to rise to dominance and ahead of the incumbents by the summer.
Other than CapCut there isn't much interesting in April. Meta and Google dominate the lists, and we already expect that.
According to our estimates, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world made their way into 270M devices in April. That's a 12% drop from March, and it's pretty noticeable pretty much across the board.
3. India's Mega Power is On Display - The Most Downloaded Games in April
I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded games in April and noticed an interesting trend. And it's not about hypercasual games this time, I promise.
Subway Surfers was the most downloaded mobile game in the world in April, making its way into 18M pockets, according to our estimates.
if you've been following the monthly series you know Subway Surfers has been the king for veeeeeeery long. April is no different.
Moving down one is where things get interesting. Dream11 was the second most downloaded app in the world in April, adding 16M new users in April. In case you're not familiar, Dream11 is a fantasy cricket app that's only available in India.
That's right. A game that's only available in India made its way to the top of the most downloaded games in the world in April. That's pretty wild!
India is a huge opportunity for mobile developers, one that everyone should at least be considering putting focus on through localization. It's how Instagram continues to grow every month.
Roblox, Candy Drush Saga, and Attack Hole (no jokes, please) round out the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world in April with 14M, 13M, and 12M downloads, respectively, according to our App Intelligence.
Oh, and Dream11 isn't the only fantasy cricket game on our list. My11Circle made it into the list with 10M downloads.
One interesting bit from April is the winner on the App Store. Monopoly Go is a brand-new game that's seen quite a few downloads since launching in early April. Also, quite a bit of revenue - $3.3M of net revenue from the App Store alone.
Together, the top 10 most downloaded games in the world made their way into 124M pockets in April. That's pretty much the same as March, which means there's no reason for concern.
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4. The Hottest Trend in Apps Right Now - How Much Are AI Chatbots Making?
AI chatbots have really taken over the App Store. This isn't the first time I said that (third, actually) and while it may not last forever (it won't) it's very hot right now.
Like, millions of downloads and dollars hot. And that's plenty hot.
I've seen quite a few AI chatbot apps make it into the App Store over the last few weeks, and have been asked by many if they should get into it as well. Why? It's really easy, really in demand, and did I say really easy?
Most AI chatbots provide a native interface for ChatGPT, and use very aggressive pricing to (somehow) charge more than what ChatGPT actually costs on the web. And the web interface is simple enough -- that's how I do all of my chatting.
Too easy to be worth big coin, right?
I used Explorer to identify all of the apps that have "AI" and "chatbot" in their name and are making more than $1,000,000 per month on the App Store, which is super easy to do with Explorer, and that search identified exactly five apps.
The apps are AI Chat, Genie, AI Smith, Ask AI, and ChatOn. Oh, and this list is ranked by revenue since the beginning of the year.
According to our estimates, the five apps in the "Million Club" have earned a combined total of $20.2M of net revenue from the App Store since January. And that's net, meaning what the happy developers get to keep and reinvest into ads. Apple got about $8M in fees.
From 5 apps.
If you're a developer and you've used any of these apps you can guess how long they took to build. If you're not -- not long...
I also summed them up and plotted their daily revenue over time so I can see where it started and where it is now.
In January, the group earned a total of $2.9M of net revenue. All apps were around with the exception of Ask AI. The total rose to $3.9M in March and then ballooned to $9.8M in April. And you probably know this by now but this is all net, meaning what the developers get to keep.
There's a new AI app that I saw climbing the charts this week called Ninja AI. I tried a bunch and they're really all the same. I wonder when OpenAI will just release its own, or when users will realize they can access ChatGPT for free online.
5. Go Knicks! The Biggest NBA Season in Mobile Revenue
Sports and streaming go together like peanut butter and jelly. It sounded better in my head, but while cheesy, it is true.
We've seen direct streaming work for quite a few sports over the last year with the NFL being the last to jump on.
With the NBA finals raging (go Knicks!) I wanted to see how the NBA's official app is doing in terms of streaming revenue, and the easy answer is - very well!
The NBA's official app has seen the most revenue ever during the '22 - '23 season. Our estimates show that between October and May (the first few days), the app earned a total of $21.4M of net revenue from the App Store. And that's net, meaning after giving Apple roughly $9M in fees.
The '21 - '22 season, which lasted a bit longer, brought in a total of $14.9M in net revenue from the App Store, according to our estimates. That means the NBA saw a 43% increase in revenue year over year.
And when compared to the previous season, which started extra late because of covid but also forced everyone to go digital because of covid, that number grows to 60%.
Clearly, streaming in-app is a good strategy. Which sport will be the next to make the leap?
And that's all I have for you this week. If you've learned something new, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and share this with everyone you know.
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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.