This Week in Apps - Play to Win

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read 9/15/23

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
382.96 -7.7%
Google Play
244.47 -19.3%

Insights

1. The NFL is Now On YouTube TV

The NFL season kicked off a few weeks ago, and with it, something new - YouTube has taken over the streaming rights to the regular season for the first time. This might seem like a small thing, but the previous owner, DirectTV, held the rights since 1994!

Naturally, YouTube has been pushing its Sunday Ticket package aggressively.

Looking at downloads, it seems to be working.

Last Sunday, YouTube TV saw the most downloads ever in a single day! According to our App intelligence, YouTube TV saw 195K downloads on Sunday.

On an average day this year, YouTube TV got around 20K downloads from the App Store and Google Play. That's nearly a 10x increase, and that's thanks to the NFL.

YouTube TV's previous peak came in February when downloads rose to 178K, but that hasn't happened since and not really before, making this spike an important one.

Streaming, from mobile, has become not just acceptable but also common and just like what we're seeing with other streamers, content is king.

And the NFL is the king of sports, in the US at least.

2. Downloads Are Down 99.8% Since Peak for This App, And It's Not Threads!

A lot of attention has been given to Threads, Meta's Twitter (aka X) clone that came and went in a social media spectacle. Maybe it was just an experiment?

Well, there's another "experiment" of sorts that exploded a few years ago but has since lost nearly all momentum.

If you haven't guessed yet, I'm talking about Clubhouse, the audio-first social network that never really worked out.

Last week, Clubhouse broke with tradition and changed its icon from an elaborate photoshoot to the official logo (which is a simple emoji), and it got me wondering - where is Clubhouse now?

I've covered Clubhouse more than once since its launch at the end of 2020, and it's really been all over the place.

Clubhouse launched in September quietly, as an invite-only iOS app. It saw just 3K downloads that month. You'd expect that to greatly limit its downloads, but instead, the app went viral and downloads started rising fast.

December brought 730K downloads, January doubled to 1.5M and in February of 2020, Clubhouse saw 5.5M downloads.

Still, an iPhone-only app.

Downloads dropped until Clubhouse released an Android version, and in June of 2021, downloads spiked again to 7.8M.

But, that was Clubhouse's last spike. Downloads started dropping quickly and December of 2021 saw just 1M downloads.

It gets worse - December of 2022 saw just 274K new downloads, according to our estimates.

The shocking drop, in my opinion, was the result of three things.

  1. Clubhouse, as a product, didn't really improve over those years. The core functionality remained the same. That was a small mistake. At the same time, every other social media platform added voice. I think X won that race.
  2. Clubhouse didn't reward creators like other platforms promised at the time. Now it's pretty standard. Clubhouse said they would, but I don't think that ever happened. That was a big mistake.
  3. Covid and lockdowns ended. People went back to their normal routines, and those routines didn't have room for real-time voice sessions. Unlike podcasts, real-time voice requires being on when it happens, and that's much more challenging.

The Points of No Return

2023 might be the year that will see Clubhouse's demise.

Growth has dropped so low that the app will soon lose the word of mouth that's been allowing it to remain relevant.

According to our estimates, downloads have dropped from around 10K in January to 4K in September. And that's across both the App Store and Google Play.

Clubhouse saw just 141K downloads in August, dropping from 275K in January. At this rate, demand, which is not linear at this level, will drop into the single thousands by early 2024. I don't think Clubhouse can recover from that.

3. Video Means Money - The Highest Earning Mobile Apps in August

I crunched the numbers and ranked the highest-earning mobile apps in August, and like last month, I expanded the ranking to be worldwide.

This month you can see why expanding beyond the US is important. The landscape is changing...

Highest earning mobile apps in the world in August 2023

But let's start at the top.

TikTok was the highest-earning app in the world in August. Our App Intelligence shows it earned $183M after paying Apple and Google their share. TikTok was the highest-earning app on the App Store and the second highest on Google Play.

YouTube was right behind it, but with a little more than half the revenue - $109M, after store fees. YouTube is likely much closer to TikTok but because Google doesn't use in-app purchases on Google Play we don't have visibility there.

Tinder, Disney+, and Max round out the top 5. This lineup is identical to last month's but every since app in the top 5 earned more in August.

The bottom two are where we see some change. Hulu dropped a spot but is still earning more than July while new entrant Tencent Video popped into 9th place.

Tencent Video, which is only available in China, managed to inch its way into the top overall list after ranking 7th on the App Store - the same place it held last month.

China's dominance can be seen across the board, from apps to games and downloads to revenue. We saw it grow over the last few months and it seems to be accelerating.

Together, the top 10 highest earners brought in a total of $694M of net revenue from the App Store and Google Play and August. That's a healthy 5% increase from July's total.


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4. China's Dominance is On Display - The Highest Earning Games in August

I crunched the numbers and ranked the highest-earning mobile games in August, and just like apps, I expanded the ranking to be worldwide.

Games are where you really see China's raw power!

Highest-earning mobile games in the world in August 2023

Monopoly Go was the highest-earning mobile game in the world in August. Our estimates show it earned $115M of net revenue from the App Store and Google Play.

The game has seen revenue soar very quickly over the last few months as it rose to the top charts in record time, leading to a 37% increase in revenue month over month.

Right below it is a new entrant - King of Glory, a China-only title, has made its way up that chart into second place with $112M in net revenue. This is why expanding the ranking to all countries was necessary.

Demand for apps and games in China is so strong it's now rivaling demand from the US and other countries. Combined!

Royal Match dropped a spot and also saw a slight revenue drop in August. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a result of Monopoly Go's success.

And right below, in 4th spot, is another China-only title. Peace Elite earned $72M, according to our estimates, and that's after Apple's fee.

Note: Google Play is not available in China so all estimates for China-only titles are only from the App Store.

Candy Crush didn't have a great summer. Revenue dropped in August and so did its rank in our chart. The difference isn't massive, but a drop is a drop.

More than 42K new games entered the App Store and Google Play between June and August. As of right now, there are 722K games across both stores. That's a lot of options.

Those are the top 5 highest earners in August, but China isn't done with our list just yet.

Justice Online made its way into the 8th spot on this list with $55M of net revenue in August, according to our estimates. Net means it's what the publisher gets to keep after Apple takes its fee.

As China locks down its stores to prevent competition, I expect to see more China-only titles taking over these rankings.

Together, the top 10 highest-earning games in the world earned a whopping $716M in August. That's a massive increase from July and a good indicator that the success of some games, like Monopoly Go, isn't necessarily redistributing gamers' spend but rather creating new spend.

That's good if you're a game developer or publisher!

5. National Cheeseburger Day Led to a 790% Increase In Downloads For This App - It's Not McDonald's Or Wendy's

I love a good food for downloads campaign, and although we saw a few this summer, we haven't seen nearly as many as I'd expected. Not from the big names, at least.

This Monday marked National Cheeseburger Day. I didn't know that was a real thing but it is. And all the big names took part by offering a free or discounted cheeseburger for those using their mobile apps.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, the names I expected to see the most new downloads actually didn't. And the one that did, wasn't even on my list.

McDonald's, the name I expected to see the most growth, didn't. Downloaded did grow. According to our estimates, McDonald's went from around 36K daily downloads to 57K downloads last Saturday. That's a hefty 58% increase, but it's not as much as the winner of this bunch.

Wendy's, which happens to be my favorite of the bunch, saw downloads rise 160%, going from a daily average of around 12K to 32K on Saturday, according to our estimates.

And those downloads are from the App Store and Google Play combined.

Burger King, the other popular name, saw downloads rise the least, just 25%, from a daily average of 12K to 15K on Saturday.

Dairy Queen's On a Roll!

Dairy Queen has been on a roll lately with its app, converting free food into massive downloads.

DQ pre-announced this campaign leading to a spike in downloads even before the giveaway started. Its downloads rose 790%, from a daily average of 20K to 178K on Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday!

DQ's downloads dropped since but not by much. The app has seen more than 90K downloads, every day, since that announcement and into the weekend.

Summer is over but I don't expect DQ to stop growing. Now I just need a DQ in NYC.

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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