This Week in Apps - Delisted!
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)
1. Bird is Getting Delisted - What Went Wrong for the Micro Mobility Star?
The rise of micro-mobility, or scooter rentals as most know them, has been a very interesting trend to observe over the years.
What started as a fun experiment turned into both a huge opportunity but also chaos.
This week, Bird, one of the largest scooter rental companies in the world, announced it's being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because its market cap is too low, possibly ending the journey for micro-mobility.
To use Bird you must download its mobile app, so let's look at the journey in terms of downloads (aka demand).
All the way back in 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago, Bird kicked off what would go on to be a very solid year with just 33K downloads in January, according to our estimates.
But by October, Bird started taking off and downloads rose to 976K! 2018 would go on to be one of Bird's best years of demand.
A strong opposition from many cities made it hard for Bird and its rivals to grow. New York never allowed scooter rentals to take off.
2019 was a fairly similar year in terms of growth, except the yearly peak came during the summer with 982K downloads in July and no spike in October. Downloads grew as Bird expanded internationally, but then came covid and shut down pretty much every outdoor activity, and people didn't need to move around as much, bringing Bird's downloads to just 33K in April of 2020.
By August, Bird managed to recover a bit, with downloads climbing up to 716K.
2021 looked promising. Demand managed to recover and actually grow as scooters became a "safe" alternative to public transportation as lockdowns were starting to ease. Downloads in August of 2021 rose to 1.1M.
Although Bird had millions of downloads it was still struggling to catch real growth. 2022 was pretty much the same story. A few more downloads in August but nothing to write home about.
And that brings us to 2023 and downloads are not doing so well at all. Instead of growing, if only by a little, August was smaller than all previous summers at just 679K, according to our estimates.
Since 2018, Bird has seen 36M downloads globally with 58% coming from the US, which isn't a small number. But cities banning scooter rentals is a hard force to battle and ultimately, Bird lost.
I wonder what would happen if companies like Bird came up with a better way to tackle the mess scooters created, which eventually led to those bans, before throwing them into cities just like that.
2. ChatGPT Finally Made It - The Most Downloaded Apps in November
We're well into December, which means it's time to rank the most downloaded apps in the world in November.
Downloads are down a bit, the usual suspects are still dominating, and ChatGPT cracked the top 10 for the first time.
Those were the highlights. Let's get to the details.
TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world in November. It led the chart with 49M downloads from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. It was also the most downloaded app in the App Store with a clear margin.
Instagram was almost the most downloaded app in the world with 49M downloads from the App Store and Google Play. When we look at the raw numbers TikTok had a small edge.
Although Instagram led the chart on Google Play, where TikTok is 3rd, it wasn't enough to take on TikTok with Threads nowhere to be seen.
Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram round out the top 5.
I'm a bit surprised that Temu didn't rise in November and that SHEIN didn't even make the list. Both had a very promising October. My only guess here is that it was cheaper to run ads before Black Friday so they both spent the majority of their ad budgets in October and then used in-app messaging to turn those downloaders into shoppers.
What do you think?
ChatGPT finally cracked the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world. While it made its way into the App Store chart a few times since its release back in May, it never made it into the overall list.
It did in November with 19M downloads. OpenAI also shut down new paid subscriptions for a short while in November citing the difficulty of scaling. That lost them millions!
According to our App Intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded mobile apps in November generated 313M downloads globally and across both platforms. This is a slight drop from October which I didn't expect, but it's not enough to be concerned.
3. China's Shifting Trends - The Most Downloaded Games in November
An app from China dominated downloads in the App Store in November as hyper casuals are making a comeback.
I crunched the numbers and ranked the most downloaded mobile games in the world in November and here's what's new.
Subway Surfers was the most downloaded mobile game in the world in November. The incumbent wasn't the most downloaded game in either the App Store or Google Play but rather ranked fourth and third, respectively. However, together, it saw 16M new downloads, according to our estimates, which gave it the lead.
8 Ball Pool, another oldie-but-goodie managed to rise to take on the second spot for the first time with 15M estimated downloads. It also managed to snag the #1 spot on Google Play.
Roblox managed to snag third place with 15M downloads as well. Just a tad less than 8 Ball Pool.
Spider Fighting and Block Blast round out the top 5 with 13M(ish) downloads each.
It's almost all hyper-casuals from here on down.
On the App Store, Rythm Master (节奏大师), a game that's only available in China, managed to get more downloads than games available globally and was the most downloaded game on the App Store in November challenging Monopoly Go. Both saw 4M downloads from the App Store, according to our estimates.
China's App Store continues to grow faster while the government restricts who can publish games there and how. I see this becoming an international problem in the future.
According to our App Intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded mobile games in the world made their way into 125M devices in November. A tad up from last month's 122M which is nice but nothing crazy.
Let's see what happens in December.
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4. Demand for Mental Health Apps is Almost Gone
Although demand for mental health apps Calm and Headspace has been on the decline since 2020, revenue wasn't - quite the opposite.
2022 was a massive year of revenue growth for the pair, growing revenue by 18% and 15%, respectively.
Calm started 2022 with the most revenue the app has ever earned - $13M of net revenue in January. Headspace too, with $8M of net revenue, according to our estimates. Next means what's left after Apple's and Google's fees.
Although revenue dropped throughout the year, the two had their best year of revenue to date, adding $94M and $61M of net revenue.
But 2023 didn't continue all of this amazing growth.
Calm's revenue dropped to $77M and Headspace's to $49M with 2 more weeks to go in December, bringing revenue back to 2021 levels.
And looking at downloads, this trend isn't going to stop any time soon because both apps have seen downloads drop more than 70% since 2020.
An onslaught of new competitors - both indie and well-funded combined with users falling out of love with long-form meditation, has made it hard for both to scale their direct revenue and instead sent them looking for other avenues for monetization.
This is a good example of how important it is to analyze the trends of a market before getting into it. Those who jumped into developing a meditation app because it was hot in 2022, may not be able to continue riding the wave, which clearly ended.
5. ChatGPT Unpaused Paid SUbscriptions and Revenue Is at an All-Time High
ChatGPT has been growing like wildfire. So fast that last month, its parent OpenAI had to pause taking new paid subscribers citing scaling issues. The result was an immediate stop to revenue growth and, thanks to churn, a massive drop in revenue.
Well, Sam managed to find more GPUs and ChatGPT is now taking on new paying subscribers, which is good because at their churn rate, revenue didn't look great...
Let's have a look at what this means for the bottom line.
A lot of money! That's what it means for the bottom line.
In fact, re-enabling subscriptions has led ChatGPT to its highest single-day revenue ever!
According to our estimates, ChatGPT brought in $297K of net revenue, what OpenAI gets to keep after Apple and Google take their fees, last Wednesday, the day subscriptions reopened. That's a 31% increase over the day before.
But that was just a warm-up. On Thursday, daily net revenue jumped to a whopping $411K - the most ChatGPT ever had in one day. In fact, it beat its previous single-day high by 28%!
The comeback isn't surprising, but it's great to see. While growth looks great, ChatGPT has many hurdles ahead of it. Everyone seems to be releasing an LLM these days and don't forget the massive churn OpenAI will have to address somehow.
None of this is bad, just interesting to watch.
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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.