This Week in Apps - Back to School

Ariel Ariel
7 minute read 8/11/23

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 (vs. 30 days ago)

App Store
424.74 +3.6%
Google Play
299.98 -2.9%

Insights

1. Is Saturn a Cooler Version of Blackboard?

It's back-to-school season, and the App Store is a buzz with school-related apps. Remind and ParentSquare, communication apps for parents, are now ranked #20 and #38 overall in the App Store above popular apps like Snapchat and Pinterest.

There's one more app that's sitting high right now thanks to B2S season - Saturn.

Unlike the others though, Saturn is an app for students and not parents. Saturn offers a way to manage schedules and socialize, a killer combo if you ask me.

Saturn launched back in 2019 but hasn't seen much tractions until last summer. According to our estimates, Saturn saw 52K downloads in 2019 and 68K downloads in 2020. Downloads nearly tripled in 2021 to 169K and then exploded in 2022 to 950K.

The increase might be related to Saturn taking Nikita Bier, the guy behind Gas, as a consultant.

Last week, Saturn rose to (almost) the top of the US App Store, placing 5th overall, where it still sits right now.

I think combining useful features with easy communication into an app that doesn't look like old enterprise software is a win, which means more growth for Saturn.

But it does have a problem - it's an iOS-only app at the moment. For a brand new app that might work but for an app released four years ago, I see it being the difference between making it to #1 and not.

We're still early in the season though, so things may change.

2. Is Bumble for Friends a Solution Without a Problem?

Bumble wants you to swipe for friendship. Yes, that's right. It's not even a new thing - BFF was a feature that did exactly that in the main Bumble app since 2016.

My question is, do people really need a swiping app to make friends?

Now that it's a standalone app we can see how much demand there is for friendly swiping.

Bumble with Friends soft-launched back in March and became official in late July.

Since its official launch, Bumble for Friends was downloaded 97K times, according to our estimates. More downloads came from Google Play than the App Store, but overall the two are fairly similar.

The app is only available in a small number of (mostly) English-speaking countries at the moment, but the US is by far the largest country by downloads.

But, is it making any money?

According to our estimates, Bumble for Friends earned a total of $56K in net revenue so far. Net means what Bumble gets to keep after Apple and Google take their share.

Like downloads, the US is responsible for most of the revenue. But unlike downloads, most of the revenue, 79%, came from the App Store.

At the same time, Bumble's flagship app was downloaded 1.2M times and earned $21M of net revenue.

Two weeks isn't enough to gauge traction, so I'll revisit it in a few months.

3. X (FKA Twitter) Has a Big Discovery Problem

Twitter is no more. It's now X.

Well, almost! Twitter Lite, an Android app from Twitter that's targeted mainly at India and Indonesia, was not renamed as part of the rebrand and is still available on Google Play.

And now that it's technically the only Twitter app with "Twitter" in its name, it's getting a lot more downloads.

Twitter, the brand, is ubiquitous. The name is known even by those who don't know what the platform is about because it's mentioned in movies, newscasts, and newspapers, all the time.

That means people go into the App Store or Google Play and search for Twitter to learn more about it, which isn't the case for most other apps. That was a positive. A reason Twitter's growth continued.

Even though Twitter is the first result when you search for X in the US, those who don't know that Twitter became X won't find what they're looking for and will eventually give up.

In India, Indonesia, and surrounding countries, those looking for Twitter shifted their downloads from the flagship app (X) to the lite app which wasn't renamed.

According to our estimates, Twitter Lite was getting about 13K daily downloads before the rebrand. Like the main app, downloads of Lite have been sloping down since the beginning of the year.

After the rebrand, downloads of Twitter Lite rose to more than 60K every day. It's down a bit now, 54K on Wednesday for a total of 503K times, according to our estimates. Last month it got 204K downloads in the same range.

While insignificant in the grand scheme of things, this is a clear indicator that X totally dropping the Twitter brand is, at best confusing and, more realistically, a mistake that's hurting growth.

Just like what Elon is doing with the logo though, I suspect "X" will become "X (FKA Twitter)" soon. Or, at least that's what I hope to see.


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4. Slack Redesigned Its Interface but Is It Too Late?

I recently asked my Twitter followers if they prefer Slack or Discord for a community. I expected Slack to be the overwhelming winner (because "Discord is for gamers") but it wasn't. Slack actually lost to Discord - 50% to 40%.

Then this week, Slack announced a new design, and looking at the screenshots, the new design looks a bit more like Discord.

Slack called the new design "a little bit of polish" but isn't rolling it out to everyone and the screenshots make it look like a whole new experience. There's nothing small about it.

But, is it too little too late?

Since 2018, Slack's quarterly mobile app downloads grew 66%. Discord's downloads grew 120% at the same. You might be thinking at this point that while the percent is higher the absolute numbers can't be higher as well because "Discord is only for gamers".

But...

According to our App Intelligence, Discord added 21.8M new downloads in Q2 of this year while Slack added 3M. Yes, that's seven times the downloads. Between 2018 and July of this year, Slack got 56M downloads while Discord added 507M.

I think it's safe to say Discord isn't just for gamers anymore, and that's a big problem for Slack. The kind of problem that a new design may help with but probably not solve. I could be wrong...

But...

Slack has an even bigger problem than Discord - Microsoft Teams! Team's downloads grew 3,385% since 2018 and our estimates show it's now leading with 24.4M downloads in Q2.

And if you're thinking, "Teams, Slack, and Discord are all different!" you aren't wrong, but users still have a preference and that preference seems to be mutually exclusive and that hurts growth.

We've been using Slack at Appfigures for a long long time, and I'm excited to see what the new design brings. I just wish I didn't have to wait a few months to try it.

5. Streaming, Dating, and Networking? The Highest Earning Apps in the World

I crunched the numbers and ranked the highest-earning apps for July, and since many of you have asked, I'm using global revenue and not just US revenue!

That plus a big update to our App Intelligence that expands our country coverage to 100, the most in the industry!

The thing with revenue is, that while the numbers are higher when looking at global revenue vs revenue in the US, the winners are almost the same.

Let's take a look.

TikTok was the highest-earning mobile app (not game) in the world in July. Our estimates show it earned $177M of net revenue worldwide, including China. And that's net, which means what Bytedance gets to keep after Apple and Google take their share.

YouTube followed with $100M in net revenue and Tinder came in 3rd with $85M, according to our estimates.

Streamers Disney+ and Max (formerly HBO Max) round out the top 5 with $80M and $51M, respectively. Important to note that Max earns more than Disney+ in the US but after the rebrand, it's no longer available outside while Disney+ is so overall Disney+ earns more.

Scrolling down the list we continue to see the same types of apps: content and dating. But there's one anomaly.

LinkedIn, 8th on our overall chart, ended July with $32M of net revenue. Its revenue has grown substantially over the last year as the platform continues to expand its creator tools and encourage more content.

LinkedIn isn't paying creators yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if that changes in the future as well, following Twitter's X's latest move to share ad revenue with big creators.

Our App Intelligence shows that together, the top 10 highest-earning apps (not including games) brought in $657M in net revenue from the App Store and Google Play in July.

I need your opinion - should I keep going with global revenue or switch back to US only?

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.

Are you a Journalist? You can get access to our app and market intelligence for free through the Appfigures for Journalists program. Contact us for more details.

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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