This Week in Apps - Business Booms
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.
U.S. Download Index (Last 30 Days)
1. Apple's Latest Android App
Apple Music Classical went live on Google Play in late May, two months after the iPhone version launched on the App Store.
The iOS release was fairly successful with 1.4M new downloads in its first week in the App Store, according to our estimates. The Android release was... smaller.
This is a big difference but I'm not too surprised. Everything Apple on the App Store gets attention and sparks curiosity. Even people who don't care much for classical music probably downloaded the app from the App Store as it hit the #1 position for a few hours.
That's rarely the case for Apple on Google Play.
And in general, classical music is not a very popular niche on either the App Store or Google Play. There are not many competitors, and those competitors are seeing very few downloads.
Looking at the latest trend, Apple did manage to make some noise over the last few weeks, which drove Android downloads to meet and beat iOS for a few days. Four days, to be precise.
One important thing to note is geography. On the App Store, Apple Music Classical's biggest market is the US. It was responsible for 42% of downloads so far in June.
On Google Play, the US is 3rd with a 14.7% share. Brazil (16%) and India (14.8%) are Apple Music Classical's top markets.
This isn't unique to Apple. The US is rarely the leader among downloads on Google Play and rarely with as much of a share. It's important to keep that in mind if you're a developer publishing on Google Play.
2. Casino Game Revenue is On the Rise in the App Store
Casino games are a big deal on the App Store. People love to bet and casino games make the entire experience very easy. That's why 10 of the top 50 grossing games in the US App Store are casino games.
During lockdowns, casino games soared -- both in downloads and revenue -- but as real casinos reopened, downloads dropped.
Revenue didn't... Well, for some.
To get a better idea of the landscape, I rounded up the five highest-earning casino games in the US App Store, which include: Lightning Link Casino Slots, Jackpot Party - Casino Slots, DoubleDown™ Casino Vegas Slots, Cashman Casino Las Vegas Slots, and Big Fish Casino: Slots Games.
The ASO guy in me can't help but point out that all optimize for the most competitive keywords, but they aren't the top result for any of them. If you read my Keyword Teardowns you'll know why as soon as you search for any of these keywords in Keyword Inspector. For those who don't -- it's all about ratings, and the highest-earners aren't getting the most.
But back to the numbers!
Revenue's Up 32%
Collectively, the group's worldwide revenue from the App Store rose 32% between January of 2022 and May of 2023. In more absolute terms, it went from $17.9M to $23.6M in about a year and a half, according to our App Intelligence. And that's net revenue, so what the publishers get to keep after Apple takes its share.
When we look at each individually the trend is very similar - every single game saw revenue grow! Not all of them saw the same growth, but they all grew.
Jackpot Party's App Store revenue grew the most, 50% according to our estimates and Cashman Casino the least, at 8%. The remaining three saw revenue growth figures closer to Jackpot party indicating demand for the entire category is on the rise.
Can you guess how many games have casino in their name right now? 1,355 on the App Store and 2,703 on Google Play, according to Explorer.
3. Monetizing the News is (Finally) Working - App Store Revenue Up 370%
The newspaper business has been in financial trouble for a long time now thanks to the internet and social media.
On mobile, this trend seems to have switched direction over the last few years as App Store revenue for the top newspapers rose 370% since 2020.
I tracked revenue for the highest earning newspaper apps in the US App Store, which include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, going all the way back to 2020 to see how it changed over time.
In Q1 of 2020, just as covid hit, the three brought in $4.4M of net revenue from the App Store, according to our estimates. Net means after Apple took its share. Looking at the entire year, revenue was growing, but not fast.
The three ended 2020 with $5.4M of net revenue from the App Store.
By the end of 2021, however, revenue started growing faster. The three saw an increase in quarterly revenue of 78%, and ended 2021 with $9.6M of net revenue in Q4, according to our estimates.
But it got better! Revenue continued to grow and peaked in Q3 of 2022 with $21.2M of net revenue from the App Store. An increase of 281% from Q1 of 2020.
Revenue didn't stay as high for too long and dropped to $16.3M by Q4. Still significantly higher than any other quarter prior. Q1 of 2023 saw a decent increase, up 16% from December.
In the same period, quarterly downloads dropped 40%.
This trend is now fairly common in the App Store. Fewer downloads but more revenue. Why? Because more apps are now investing into optimizing the conversion rate from a download to a paying user.
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4. Downloads Are Going into Summer Mode - The Mobile Download Index
Downloads change drastically during the summer. Kids are on vacation which means more games see more downloads, and more adults are also on vacation which means more traveling and more business downloads.
If you think that last one is counter intuitive keep reading and you'll see why I say that.
The easiest way to see this shift into summer is using the Mobile Download Index, a free resource for developers that tracks the change in download volume for the top apps across countries and categories.
Here's what downloads in the US App Store look like right now vs. 30 days ago, and the top categories by how much downloads grew:
Right now, the top 10 categories with biggest change in download volume are:
- Kids (6-8)
- Games → Family
- Games → Racing
- Food & Drink
- Kids (9-11)
Each of these categories are up double-digits.
Can you spot the groups here?
Four categories are about apps and games for kids. With kids out of school, mobile devices are how parents are keeping their kids entertained. Makes sense.
Education also makes sense as school is not in session and those who want to continue learning need... you guessed it. Apps.
Adults also have more free time, which they're using to travel and eat. Also makes sense.
Business at last may seem like a mistake but it isn't. This rise is common as adults who are traveling but still need to work abandon their laptops and desktops in favor of lighter versions of the apps they need to get stuff done right from their phones.
Microsoft's and Google's productivity apps see a summer bump every summer for that reason.
What does this mean for developers and publishers? If your app or game falls into any of these categories now's the time to put more effort into promotion. Be it organic with App Store Optimization or paid with Apple Search Ads, now's the time to increase it.
FYI - The Mobile Market Index is available for free to all developers tracking their apps with Appfigures.
5. How Much Did HBO Lose When Moving Subscriptions to Max?
It's been a month since HBO Max joined forces with discovery+ and rebranded as Max. The rebranding wasn't a simple name change for the app, as what most expected. Instead, Max was released as a new app and HBO Max left the US.
If you're thinking "but what about all those paying subscribers?!?!?" that's exactly what I've bene looking forward to finding out! Now that we have enough days of data we can compare Max's revenue to HBO Max's revenue before the switch.
My guess was that it'd drop as some would see this as an opportunity to cancel their subscription.
Let's start with context. According to our App Intelligence, HBO Max saw $56.2M of net revenue from the App Store in the US in the 30 days prior to Max's launch and its removal from the App Store. That includes one day of overlap where both apps were available.
During the first 30 days of Max's life on the App Store, Max brought in $49.6M in net revenue, according to our estimates. And this period also includes that one day where both apps were available.
I see two interesting things here. The first is simple - Revenue stayed pretty much the same throughout this. So while some likely saw this as an opportunity to cancel, most didn't. A 12% drop in revenue is probably making some higher ups at Warner Bros Discovery, but considering they chose a new app over a rename, this could have been worse.
The other might not be as obvious. A big part of this rebrand was to join discovery+ into HBO Max to attract more downloads and more paying subscribers. A month in, the trend isn't as up-and-to-the-right as I had expected.
Content is still king so more content = more better, but it looks like it won't lead to overnight success but rather a long slog.
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.