This Week in Apps - Ups and Downs
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)
1. Airbnb's Best Summer Ever!
Airbnb's (ABNB) app downloads has been a very good proxy for understanding the impact of covid lockdowns on mobility and it's also a great for proxy for the recovery.
2022 was pretty much the year for that, and we saw Airbnb's massive rise in downloads in the US over the summer.
Now that 20203's summer is over I was curious to see if the recovery has expanded internationally.
The easy answer is yes!
Looking at Airbnb's downloads by month since 2019, we can see that Airbnb's downloads have more than full recovered, but that growth post-lockdowns is much stronger.
January, which is a higher-than-average month for Airbnb's downloads brought in 3.4M new downloads in 2019, 3.9M in 2020 (pre-lockdowns), 2.3M in 2021, 3.2M in 2022, and a whopping 5M new downloads in 2023.
That's a 44% increase from 2019 and 113% when compared to 2021.
And that wasn't Airbnb's highest month of downloads this year!
The summer is Airbnb's best time for new downloads. Specifically, the month of July. In 2020, July was still Airbnb's highest month of downloads - though fewer than before (or after).
This year, Airbnb's downloads rose to the highest they've ever been in July - 5.6M, according to our App Intelligence. That's 37% higher than 2019 and 107% higher than 2020.
Airbnb continues to face stiff competition in the US from Expedia's Vrbo, has been officially banned in my home town of New York City, and is facing internal challenges so the growth comes with some growing pains.
I think they'll survive.
2. Snapchat+ Takes a Big Hit in September
September wasn't the bestest of months for apps that monetize the younger crowed. I'm mainly talking about games here, but there are a few other apps that felt the crunch.
Snapchat was one of those apps.
I've been following Snapchat's mobile revenue ever since Snapchat+, the platform's "response" to Twitter Blue, launched last year.
Snapchat+ started as a very simple set of unexciting features, leading me to suggest it won't get too much traction, but I was wrong!
Initial excitement led to nearly $6M in net revenue on launch month, and while it dropped after, revenue eventually rose and with the addition of features that mimicked Elon's Blue, revenue has grown significantly ending with $17.9M in August, according to our App Intelligence.
Snap's (SNAP) biggest month of mobile revenue!
But then September happened...
According to our estimates, Snapchat's mobile revenue dropped a frightening 24% in September down to $13.7M. The drop brought Snapchat's top grossing rank in the US App Store from 24th place in August down to 47th place in mid-September.
Twitter, I mean X, I mean Twitter, took a big hit in September as well so I won't hold this drop against Snap. I'll wait to see October's haul before making any conclusions.
3. TikTok's Lemon8 Can't Seem to Get Traction in the US
TikTok seems like the giant that can't fail anymore. It seems to constantly be in the news for something not-so-great, yet millions continue to download the app - More than 50M in the last month, according to our estimates.
It probably won't fail, but its sibling, Lemon8, an influencer shopping app that was released quietly outside the US in 2020 and in the US earlier this year, is not looking like an Instagram killer it was meant to be.
Even though it saw the most downloads ever in September!
Lemon8, which is published by Heliophilia Ptw. and not TikTok's parent ByteDance, even though it's owned by it, launched in 2020 in Japan. Its downloads were pretty small initially, under a thousand in March of 2020, but rose sharply in April to 13K, according to our estimates.
Downloads were pretty much the same throughout 2020 but started rising, again, in 2021, peaking at 292K in July. The app's all-time high at that point.
Downloads got into the millions in 2022 with a peak of 1.5M in July. In total, Lemon8 added 10.6M new downloads in 2022. The majority of those downloads came from Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Although 2023 wasn't as explosive as 2022, downloads have been on the rise and in September, our estimates show Lemon8 getting 1.9M new downloads from the App Store and Google Play.
This sounds pretty good right? We're not talking TikTok numbers but the trend is heading in the right direction.
Earlier this year, Lemon8 launched in the US. After the success it saw int he east you'd expect that downloads would skyrocket. But it didn't.
SInce launching in February, Lemon8 saw just 2M downloads in the US, according to our estimates. And to make things worse, the majority of those downloads came from spikes and not a rising trend.
In September, Lemon8's biggest month of downloads in the US, the app made it into 525K phones, according to our App Intelligence. That's not a figure you'd expect from a TikTok sibling. And that's after being live for quite a while.
Some have called Lemon8 a flop, and it just might be that, but there's one thing they forgot - TikTok.
Lemon8 is barely integrated with TikTok and hasn't been cross promoted as much as it could be. If that happens, we could see a major shift in the trend.
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4. Everyone Wants to Drive for Uber (and some for Lyft)!
I looked at downloads of the Uber and Lyft driver apps in the US as a proxy for demand before, during, and after lockdowns and the numbers tell a very interesting story.
Can you guess how many new drivers Uber and Lyft added in January of 2020 without looking at the chart? 772K, according to our estimates.
Uber saw the lion share of new drivers with roughly 70% of the downloads.
In April, when everything locked down, downloads dropped 61% to 298K! But the drought didn't last long.
Uber and Lyft kicked off 2021 with 425K new downloads in January and peaked with 838K downloads in December, according to our estimates. Yes, almost a million new drivers joined in a single month - and that's only in the US.
Fast forward to July and the pair did it - 1.1M new downloads, according to our estimates. Downloads sloped down after the summer ended, but for Uber, downloads are still at all-time highs.
I did say Uber because Lyft isn't sharing the success.
While downloads of Uber Driver are up 211% since April 2020 and 195% for Lyft, when compared to January, Uber is still up 32% while Lyft's are down 11%.
And in more absolute terms, our App Intelligence shows Uber Driver saw 23.5M new downloads in the US since April of 2020 while Lyft added 6.7M as the gap between the two also rose giving Uber the clear upper hand.
It'll be interesting to see what sort of incentives Lyft will offer new drivers to get them back from Uber. Right now it seems like they're going in the opposite direction.
5. Roblox's Mobile Revenue Took a Nosedive in September
Roblox (RBLX) hasn't had an amazing year so far in 2023, and I'm not just talking about its stock price which is down about 8% in the last 6 months and sits at less than half its opening price.
What I'm looking at here is in-app revenue from the App Store and Google Play.
Roblox started the year with a massive haul of $73M of net revenue from its mobile apps globally, according to our estimates. And that's net which means what Roblox gets to keep after Apple and Google take their fees.
While not an all-time high, January was decently above-average for Roblox. Our estimates show the all-time high came in January of 2022 with a whopping $108M in net revenue from the App Store and Google Play, but mostly from the App Store.
But the year has also been full of controversy, including allegations that Roblox encourages gambling among kids.
Revenue dropped to $61M in February in $60M in March, and again, that's all after store fees. That's a 20% drop!
The summer brought some growth to Roblox's bottom line with net revenue from both stores growing to $62M in June and $65 in July, but it didn't last.
September was Roblox's lowest month of revenue from its mobile apps. According to our estimates, Roblox earned $52M of net revenue from the App Store and Google Play in September. If you're keeping count, that's a drop of 28% from January.
And that's not all. Compared to 2022, it's likely that Roblox will see less revenue this year. You'd have to be a bit of a gambler to hold its stock right now.
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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.