This Week in Apps - Out of Gas

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read 7/21/23

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. Downloads Index (vs. 30 days ago)

App Store
81.60 +18.2%
Google Play
54.58 +6.2%

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Insights

1. India Taxes Game Developers - How Much Will They Lose?

Earlier this month, the government of India announced it would soon impose a 28% tax on all betting games. This sent shockwaves through India's booming gaming industry and tanked a few stocks.

The first two thoughts that come to mind are why now and how much money are we talking about?

So I rounded up the top 100 casino games in the App Store and on Google Play and looked at their revenue estimates in India for June.

The first question of why is fairly easy to answer - there's a decent chunk of money there. And this is only mobile, which is just a fraction of the betting games the new tax is targeting.

According to our App Intelligence, the top 100 casino games on the App Store and Google Play in India saw $197M of net revenue in June. This is net revenue which means what the developers get to keep after giving Apple and Google their fees, and this revenue is only from India.

India was already taxing game companies, but only on what they keep and not what they pay back to players. As part of this new tax, all revenue (aka face value) is being taxed.

At those numbers, a 28% tax equals about $55M of revenue for the government. Every month.

Looking at all of 2023, these numbers are pretty stable. January was a bit higher, February lower, and the rest somewhere in between. Stability is a great time to jump on an opportunity, but it does come with a potential for danger.

India isn't the first country to tax betting games on face value. Poland and Portugal do that and even though the amount is much lower, the two are struggling to keep gaming companies in the country, and those that stay don't do so legally.

For a moment, several news outlets believed the tax was on all games, a fact that was later clarified by the government. But, if that were the case, India's government would be about ~$300M richer every month.

I hope that doesn't happen in the future.

2. Are Widgets Making a Comeback? Widgetable is!

Remember when widgets were new and mega hot? When Widgetsmith earned $3M per month?? Well, that was back in 2020. Downloads and revenue of widgets declined over time and mostly went unnoticed.

This week I noticed an "oldie" rising to the top of the US App Store.

And it wasn't Widgetsmith.

Widgetable is now the #5 most downloaded app in the US App Store, having risen consistently over the last month, which started in position #82.

According to our App Intelligence, downloads grew from a daily average of 35K in June to a peak of 152K two weeks ago. Downloads dropped a bit and then rose, again, to 149K this Tuesday.

Since the growth sprout started, which seems to be around July 5th, Widgetable saw 356K downloads. That's a little more than half of all downloads Widgetable got in all of 2023 before the sprout started.

The interesting thing here is that this growth isn't a result of a new Apple Search Ads campaign and isn't limited to the App Store, which is what we normally see. Although the App Store is responsible for 77% of the downloads, the trends across both the App Store and Google Play look fairly similar in terms of growth.

But here's the big question - what about revenue?

It tripled!

In June, Widgetable was earning about $7k/day, according to our estimates. And that's net, which means the amount after Apple and Google deduct their fees. As downloads rose, so did revenue. The trend was a lot more tame, but the results are substantial. This week, Widgetable's daily net revenue peaked at $22K.

Here the distribution between the App Store and Google Play is very different. Most of this net revenue - $21K of it, came from the App Store. Google Play was responsible for just a few hundred dollars.

App developers that aren't focused on growing - what are you waiting for???

3. Reddit Isn't the Same After Apollo

Apollo is dead. Long live Apollo.

Reddit has recently closed off its API to 3rd party developers and in the process, eliminated a popular app by the name of Apollo. It was a pretty ugly journey that resulted in many subreddits going on strike and some users leaving the platform for good.

All of that is now behind us and the burning question is - Has the dust settled?

The answer might surprise some of you.

Downloads of Reddit's flagship app rose sharply in mid-June. That's when the fight between Reddit and Apollo started heating up, and just a couple weeks before the API closed.

Why? A combination of Apollo users who didn't hate Reddit enough to delete their account + all the buzz generated by many complaining about Reddit's decisions. Some say all news is good news. I don't always agree, but that seems to be the case here.

And if you're thinking, "How big was Apollo anyway?" - Apollo was downloaded more than 500K times in 2023, and more than 4M times since 2018.

Since the surge started, Reddit's app was downloaded 3.6M times, according to our estimates. That's 17%, or 600K downloads higher than what they did in the previous month. Did the revenue follow?

Reddit doesn't make a lot of money from in-app purchases, which surprises many people, so prepare to start small.

Reddit's mobile apps average $16K of net revenue per day. And that's from the App Store and Google Play together, even though the App Store is responsible for 70% of the revenue.

Like downloads, revenue increased, but it didn't last as long.

In July, revenue grew for about a week, bringing the daily average to $20K, likely from the surge of new users who chose to stick with the official app.

As soon as the bump subsided, however, revenue dropped. This week, net revenue dropped 10% to just around $11K/day.

Those who want Reddit crucified will enjoy this drop and those that don't will say these numbers are too small to be meaningful.

Comparing this to other social platforms that are able to monetize their users - Reddit is leaving a lot of money on the table...


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4. ChatGPT Downloads Dropped 27% in the Last Month - Where's Revenue?

ChatGPT is no doubt one of the most important things that happened in technology this year. Controversial, sure, but also explosive.

It took over the web, Twitter feeds, and the news in a very short span of time and sprouted many startups.

What it didn't have early on is a mobile app, leaving the door open for 3rd parties using its API to do that.

And they did!

But then OpenAI, ChatGPT's maker, released an official app. Some thought it would crush all others overnight, but it didn't.

The official ChatGPT app launched to much fanfare, which led to a lot of downloads, but two months after, the downloads haven't grown much. Instead, they dropped.

Since hitting launch peak back in late May, ChatGPT's downloads dropped 58%. According to our estimates, ChatGPT peaked at 387K daily downloads at the end of May, and this Wednesday saw 162K downloads.

I had expected the trend to move in the other direction, but as I've said before, ChatGPT is a really cool technology, but for most people, it's just too raw to use daily.

Combined with the lack of an Android version, I'm less surprised the growth isn't there.

But what about revenue?

Things are a bit different there. And before you stop me and say most of ChatGPT's subscriptions are on the web, let's have a look at the numbers and the growth.

According to our estimates, ChatGPT saw $782K of net revenue in May, right after launching. And that's net, so it's what OpenAI gets to keep after Apple takes its fees.

The total rose to $1.5M in June, roughly double. Considering it was ChatGPT's first full month, the growth makes sense.

July isn't over, but we forecast ChatGPT will see net revenue from the App Store rise to $1.8M.

20% isn't a lot when you consider the explosiveness of ChatGPT, but it beats the drop in downloads.

For context, the leading 3rd party ChatGPT app, Ask AI, saw $3.6M in net revenue from the App Store in June. Ask AI is also available on Google Play, where it saw $1.1M in net revenue in June.

What's OpenAI waiting for?

5. Out of Gas - Was Discord's Acquisition All Snake Oil?

Last year, Gas, an anonymous messaging app for teens, rose to the top of the charts very quickly.

Before that momentum disappeared, Gas managed to sell itself to Discord. A partnership I didn't expect at all. That momentum, however, ran out very quickly. Just about a month!

Downloads of Gas peaked in October, which was the month for Gas. Our estimates show downloads crossed 3.2M in October. At that time, Gas was only available on the App Store and only in some states.

Downloads dropped to 2.8M in November and then to just 415K in December. In July, downloads dropped to just 14K.

Ouch!

Discord's acquisition was less for the tech and more for the team, which consisted of 4 founders. So naturally, I'd expect this abominable decline in downloads of Gas to translate into amazing growth for Discord.

Well...

The easy answer is no. That's not exactly what's happening.

Looking at Discord's downloads, I can see why it was interested in hiring growth hackers.

Downloads of Discord's mobile app dropped 27% between January of 2022 and June of this year. According to our estimates, Discord saw 10M downloads in January of 202 and 7.3M downloads in June of this year. And the trend between those months was almost all down.

With lockdowns a thing of the past many messaging platforms are no longer seeing the growth they did in 2020 and 2021, so this isn't that big of a surprise, but that also means acquiring Gas didn't make a dent.

I wonder how Discord sees this acquisition because I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now.

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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