This Week in Apps - Shopping Showdown?
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.
This week we're looking at AI, now that ChatGPT has an official app, TikTok, which is being "threatened" by the state of Montana, a nostalgic look at apps that have been around for a decade (can you name any quickly), why Amazon is no longer the most popular shopping app, and a milestone for Monopoly GO.
Oh, and there are two new segments: Opinion and Tidbits. Scroll down to check them out.
1. How Many Apps Will Turn 10 This Year?
Earlier in the week, I polled my Twitter followers to see if they could guess how many apps turn 10 this year. For the first time ever, the votes were split between the right answer and the very wrong answer.
73,599 iOS and Android apps will turn 10 in 2023. That is, apps that were released in 2013 and are still available on the App Store or on Google Play.
If your app is on the list congrats for sticking it out for so long. 10 is a big number!
The split between the App Store and Google Play is nearly identical with Google Play owning 52% of the total.
Games were the single largest category, just as you'd expect, with 12,289 titles. Utilities, Education, Books, and Business round out the top five categories.
Can you guess which apps are on the list?
Here are a few names you may recognize:
- Duolingo (the Android version)
- Cash App
- Zoom (the Android version)
Appfigures turned 14 a few months ago so I remember a world that didn't have any of these apps. Crazy!
2. Amazon Loses Downloads Lead in the US to Chinese Competition
Amazon has been the most downloaded shopping app in the US for a very long time. It managed to beat local competitors like Walmart, and even international competition from apps like Wish.
But it looks like Amazon has finally met its match. Well, matches.
Amazon's downloads have been pretty stable in the US for quite some time and went up fairly recently.
Going aaaall the way back to 2020, Amazon's shopping app was averaging around 550K downloads per week in the US, according to our estimates. The summer of 2022 was strong, pushing Amazon's downloads to more than double with a range between 800K and 1.2M weekly downloads.
And that spike didn't slow down until February of this year, after which downloads really started sloping down. Amazon ended last week with just 342K downloads from the US. Way below its 2020 average and way way below its 2022 average.
Because there are other shopping alternatives, and those alternatives have been getting more downloads consistently for quite some time now.
SHEIN, a clothing retailer that sells "fast fashion" shipped from China, has been chasing Amazon's tail since it launched. Key word being "chasing". SHEIN averaged a little over half of Amazon's downloads back in 2020.
They got close a few times but not enough to really take the lead. In January of 2023, that changed and SHEIN's downloads are now about double those of Amazon in the US. SHEIN saw 617K downloads from the App Store + Google Play in the US last week, according to our estimates.
Need download and revenue estimates for your competitors? Click here.
And SHEIN isn't even Amazon's biggest threat right now.
Temu, a China-based retailer that sells a variety of goods, from clothes to furniture, at very low prices, took the App Store and Google Play by storm when it launched late last year.
And by "storm" I mean with weekly downloads in the US crossing a million every week since launch. Every. Week.
That's at least 3 times what Amazon sees and more than double what SHEIN sees on a good day.
The holiday shopping season was big for Temu. It averaged 2M new downloads every week between November and December, according to our estimates. Downloads dropped since, which makes sense overall, but are still astronomically high in comparison.
Temu saw 1.3M new downloads last week in the US.
This is a big problem for Amazon which may mean the next Prime Day will be a little more exciting than the last few.
And yes, Temu is one of the biggest spends on Apple Search Ads which helps it get those downloads. You'd know that if you're subscribed to the newsletter. If you aren't, now's a great time to subscribe.
3. TikTok's Downloads Dropped 38% in the US This Year
Earlier this week, the state of Montana announced its plan to ban TikTok in 2024. This is the first decisive action we've seen regarding TikTok so far, and while I don't think it'll actually happen, it did raise a thought - does the US still want TikTok?
Over the last few years, demand for TikTok has been generally following an upward trend. A spike during covid and a very healthy 2022.
But that run seems to be over.
According to our estimates, TikTok made its way into 3.1M iOS and Android devices in the US.
This sounds like a lot and considering that's 3 times the population of the state of Montana it is, but when you compare it to March's 4.2M downloads it's a significant drop. A 26% drop if you prefer more precision.
It gets worse when we compare it to February's 4.3M downloads and even worse when compared to January's 5M downloads.
And I'm not even going to compare it to 2022, when TikTok's downloads rose to a peak of 7.8M, according to our App Intelligence.
Is TikTok on its way out?
Not really... Keep in mind, these figures are only for the US, which was responsible for roughly 13% of all of TikTok's downloads since 2018. Not including China, TikTok has been downloaded more than 3B times in that period.
Ultimately, I expect Montana won't go through with this decision. The only reason I can think of for Montana to announce the decision now but not put the block in place until 2024 is so they can play the news game while being persuaded not to do it.
Do you think I'm wrong?
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4. Anime Earns Big on the App Store
Streaming apps are somewhat of an easy go-to on This Week in Apps because it's an area of the store that's only been taken seriously fairly recently as covid locked many of us down, and we're getting a front-row seat to how companies are trying to win the race.
All of the streamers I talk about regularly have a broad catalog of content. Disney+ is somewhat of an exception, but it's Disney content so it's pretty broad.
Crunchyroll is a good example of exactly the opposite, and it's doing pretty well!
Crunchyroll, in case you aren't familiar, is a streaming app for anime. Just anime. Nothing else.
The app was launched all the way back in 2009 and was acquired by Sony in 2021.
Its revenue has been on an up-and-to-the-right trend for a very long time now. This year alone, Crunchyroll's monthly net revenue from the App Store grew 17%, from $14.9M in January to $17.8M in April. And that's net, meaning what Sony gets to keep after giving Apple its share.
Crunchyroll has already earned $74M of net revenue from the App Store this year, more than 64% of what it earned in all of 2022, which was a great year in terms of revenue, and we're not even at the half-point yet.
I expect to see more niche streamers rise as streaming becomes the most popular way to consume content.
5. There's an Official ChatGPT App Now - What's Going to Happen to the $10,000,000 Industry its Absence Created?
OpenAI released an official mobile app for ChatGPT this week. Normally I'd wait a week or two and collect some data before talking about it here, but this launch is important, so instead of focusing on the data I'm going to share my thoughts about what this means.
I'll look at the data next week.
ChatGPT is currently the most downloaded app in the US App Store, the only place where you can get the app right now.
This isn't a surprise, but what does this release mean for the thousands of apps that launched to bring ChatGPT to mobile phones over the last few months?
My take - it's both good and bad. Good for some, bad for others.
Let's start with the bad. Or rather, let's start with a few numbers to get some context.
There are 2,970 apps on the App Store and Google Play that have GPT in their name or description. Five were released today and 451 so far in May. Developers have moved fast, and considering most of those apps are thin wrappers around OpenAI, the speed makes sense.
Out of this ocean of apps, a handful became very successful. Apps like Ask AI and Genie are seeing millions of downloads and millions of dollars in monthly revenue. In total, we estimate AI chatbots have earned around $10M in net revenue in the last month.
Now that we have the numbers, let's get to the bad news.
The official ChatGPT app is very bare, just like ChatGPT on the web. That's not the bad news yet.
Most of those apps currently out there are pretty much the same, which means they don't have any real competitive advantage and their existence is now threatened by the official client because it'll be much easier to find it and not those other apps.
That's the bad news. Apps that rely on OpenAI's APIs and offer no additional value on top will have a very hard time competing right now. They could spend a lot on ads to get visibility, but ChatGPT is so hot that even if they do manage to succeed in getting eyeballs and downloads, the return on it will be heavily negative.
I suspect many of the thousands of apps currently available will get abandoned as their developers move on.
But ChatGPT's app will also be good news for some apps.
One of the biggest challenges with ChatGPT is what to do with it. Sure, you can ask it anything, but... what should you ask?
There are apps that help with that. Some offer pre-generated prompts, others add functionality that ChatGPT doesn't have like summarizing PDFs and websites, or interacting with other services.
Plugins could solve this, but the app doesn't offer access to plugins yet, and I don't see OpenAI opening a prompt gallery any time soon.
Apps that add functionality on top of ChatGPT conversations are still at an advantage, and as more people are exposed to AI more people will likely want help with what to do with it, and will likely want an alternative that can do that.
The tech crowd might want an official app, but the masses will want specific features.
App Store Optimization, paid ads, and word of mouth are going to drive even more downloads for those apps as a result.
Should you join the race right now? Maybe. If you want to build a real app with real value, sure. If you just want some quick cash, no, that's all over.
- 13,964 new apps and games were released this week, including 98 Mac apps and 64 for the Apple TV.
- The New York Times is trying to ride the success of audiobooks with the release of NYT Audio.
- 3 of the top 5 apps in the Russian App Store are VPNs right now.
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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.