This Week in Apps - Big Blunder

Ariel Ariel
9 minute read 7/7/23

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.

U.S. Revenue Index (30 Day)

App Store
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There's a lot of talk about Threads, Meta's copy of Twitter. I suspect it launched ahead of schedule because Twitter's rate limiting over the weekend angered a lot of users. I say that because downloads of other social platforms ballooned thanks to that.

Read on for the numbers and the unexpected winner, and more!

- Ariel

This Week in Apps

  1. Alt social networks explode after Twitter's blunder
  2. Blue checks are big money for... Instagram
  3. The most downloaded apps in the world
  4. The most downloaded games in the world
  5. Micro mobility is no more...


1. Twitter's Weekend Blunder Led Hundreds of Thousands to Bluesky and Truth Social

Last weekend was rough for Twitter. On Saturday, many users started getting errors while scrolling through their feeds. Elon then tweeted that the platform is under heavy scraping and to prevent calamity, users are being rate limited. The limit increased over a few hours and eventually lifted altogether, but by that point, enough people were unable to use the platform.

Many complained, on Twitter, ironically. But others went looking for an endless timeline to scroll elsewhere.

Threads, Meta's Twitter clone, wasn't available yet, so where did those frustrated users go?

Truth Social, Bluesky, and a few even went to Mastodon.

Downloads of all three alternatives rose on Saturday and Sunday, and together, saw 400K new downloads in those two days. For Bluesky and Truth Social, Sunday was also the highest day of downloads since launch.

Mastodon, which is where I expected more people to land, grew the least in absolute terms. Daily downloads went from just about 1K in the previous week to 18K on Saturday and 67K on Sunday. They dropped on Monday but were still higher than their daily average.

Between Saturday and Wednesday, Mastodon's app was downloaded a total of 166K times from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. And while high, this wasn't Mastodon's all-time high. That happened back in November when Elon took over Twitter.

Bluesky, which spun out of Twitter in 2021, was the second winner of this blunder. Bluesky Social was downloaded 66K and 118K times on Saturday and Sunday, according to our estimates. Sunday was also Bluesky's best day of downloads since launch.

Between Saturday and Wednesday, Bluesky welcomed 353K new downloads to its platform and in the process, managed to cross its first million downloads. As of Wednesday, the platform that launched in February had 1.2M downloads from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates.

Keep in mind, Bluesky requires an invite to use, so those downloads aren't users. Imagine what would happen if they lifted the requirement for the weekend.

The biggest winner of Twitter's blunder, however, was Truth Social, ex-president Donald Trump's social network.

Truth Social, which is in a bit of legal trouble right now for defrauding investors, saw downloads growing more than 5,000% and added 25K and 211K new users from the App Store and Google Play, according to our App Intelligence.

It grew the most of all three, adding 462K new downloads between Saturday and Wednesday. And like Bluesky, Sunday was the highest day of downloads for the platform. Ever.

This was a record week for alternative social networks, but now that Meta's Threads is out, I don't think it'll happen again.

If you haven't been following, Thread is a fairly basic copy of Twitter that ironically doesn't have support for threads. It exploded after being released ahead of schedule, which isn't surprising, and has left many Twitter users unsure where to exist.

I'll cover Threads next week.

2. Instagram's Copy of Twitter's Blue Check Raked In More than $15M so Far

Earlier this year, when everyone was dunking on Twitter's $8 blue checkmark, Instagram decided it was a feature worth copying.

Instagram's own program, called Meta Verified, rolled out in March and has managed to instantly triple, and later, quadruple, Instagram's in-app revenue from the App Store.

Before verifications launched, Instagram's app was earning Meta around $1.5M of net revenue per month from the App Store, according to our estimates. And that's net, which means what Meta gets to keep after Apple takes its share.

That revenue came from selling badges, and from a pilot program Instagram was running to let users subscribe to creators. Just like Twitter.

Verifications, which are an almost exact copy of Twitter's, launched in the US in April and cost $14.99/mo when purchased from the app, and revenue rose immediately.

Our App Intelligence shows Instagram ended March with $4.4M of net revenue from the App Store. Considering pre-verifications revenue growth, I estimate verifications were responsible for about $2.5M of that total.

The total rose to $6.4M in April and $7M in May. It dipped a bit in June, down 4% to $6.8M, according to our estimates. Not including badges and subscriptions, we estimate verifications alone earned Instagram $16.8M of net revenue from the App Store since launching in April. The app's total revenue during those 4 months was $24.6M.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I don't think Twitter cares about Meta copying verifications, but I know Twitter isn't flattered by Threads, Instagram's simpler basic copy of Twitter, which launched a few days ago.

The reason I bring up Threads is because verifications carry over from Instagram to Threads, so I expect revenue to rise even faster in July.

3. AI All the Way - The Most Downloaded Apps in June

I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded apps in the world. I was most curious about ChatGPT, the official app from OpenAI that launched in May and was the most downloaded app in the US App Store for a few weeks, only to be dethroned by HBO's rebranded Max.

But let's start at the top.

Instagram was the most downloaded app in the world. Our App Intelligence shows its 48M new downloads from the App Store and Google Play beat TikTok's 41M as TikTok is still banned in India, Instagram's biggest source of new downloads in June.

Facebook, WhatsApp, and Capcut round out the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world. Meta commands this list with three in the top 5 and another, Messenger, in 10th place. The most from a single company.

What about ChatGPT?

While ChatGPT didn't make it into the combined list, where downloads from both the App Store and Google Play are added up, it did rank on the App Store. ChatGPT snagged the 4th spot, previously occupied by Google, with 8M new downloads in June, according to our estimates.

That's because ChatGPT was released only for iOS, and two months in, it's still only available on the App Store. I think that's a mistake, but I'm sure third-party apps don't think that way - so I'll let them have it.

According to our App Intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world garnered 283M new downloads in June from the App Store and Google Play. This total is a few million short of May's figure, but considering summer is here and more people are trying to get away from their phones, this isn't a cause for alarm.

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4. The Same but Lower - The Most Downloaded Games in June

June is officially behind us, which means it's time to crunch the numbers and rank the most downloaded games in the world!

Get ready for a small surprise, and not the good kind.

Subway Surfers was, again, the most downloaded game in the world. It made its way into 20M iOS and Android devices in June, according to our estimates. Subway Surfers has been the most downloaded game in the world for so long now that all I can say is, well played!

Right below it, in second place, is Roblox. The game, which finally changed its icon on the App Store so it matches Google Play, added 15M new users in June and reclaimed its spot after being ranked third last month.

Candy Crush Saga, Royal Match, and Ludo King round out the top 5, and if you squint just enough, you'll see this matches last month's top 5 but with a different hyper-casual title. Weird.

The bottom 5 resemble May as well but include a different set of names as hyper casuals battle for downloads.

Monopoly Go, which took over the charts in May, is still ranked in June, but only on the App Store. The title continues to be one of the most downloaded in the US and in other countries but isn't as strong on Google Play.

Together, the top 10 most downloaded games in the world had 122M downloads from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. This total is about 10% lower than May's total, which is a bit surprising to me.

Games usually rise in the summer as more kids are out of school and need to be entertained. Looking at our Mobile Download Index, this is really a mixed bag of a month. Game downloads on the App Store are up across many but not all countries, and are down across most countries.

Let's see what July will be like.

5. Scooters Lose Their Hype - Downloads Down Post-Pandemic

Scooter rental apps are one of my favorite topics to look at during the summer. Downloads peak in August, and over the last few years have been growing consistently year over year after taking a slight hit in the early days of the pandemic.

To get a better idea of where the trend is heading, I rounded up the most popular scooter rental apps, which include Bird, Lime, Spin, and Scoot, and the downloads surprised me.

According to our estimates, the group grew consistently year over year since 2020. Just looking at downloads during the month of June, the group's downloads grew from 1.8M in 2020 to 2.6M in 2022. That's 56% over two years.

Lime is the most popular of the bunch. It contributed more than half of all downloads, 1.4M in June of 2022, to be specific, according to our estimates. Bird was right below it with 998K downloads.

When looking at downloads for 2023 June looks... incomplete. But it isn't.

According to our App Intelligence, which is where all of the data in this series comes from, Lime saw 1.2M new downloads in June of 2023. Bird was, again, right below it with 557K downloads. Yes, about half of 2022!

Scoot and Spin, which see far fewer downloads, also dropped 20%+ in 2023.

Together, the group's downloads were down to 2M in June of 2023, according to our estimates. That's a 23% decrease from last year, and the first drop since the pandemic started.

Electric scooters are great, and I speak from experience, but rentals always felt like a half-baked idea. Between the clutter scooters returned to random spots create and the safety challenges, many big cities were forced to ban them altogether, and that really hurt adoption.

End of era...

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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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