This Week in Apps - AI, Again.

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read Mar. 1

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. Travel Downloads Index (vs. 30 days ago)

App Store
140.56 +18.1%
Google Play
110.42 +26.8%

Insights

1. Google Rolled Out Gemini in a Weird Way

A few weeks ago, Google (finally) jumped into the AI app race after renaming its AI from Bard to Gemini. A much better name if you ask me.

But Google's rollout of Gemini on mobile has been weird... See, Google released a standalone Gemini app for Android but not for iOS. You can still get Gemini on iOS but you'll have to download the Google app for that.

That sounds like Google is hiding Gemini on iOS which is kind of weird.

But! I think Google chose this strategy for a completely different reason which becomes very obvious when you look at downloads.

To understand Google's strategy we first have to look at downloads for its competition, which is currently ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot.

According to our App Intelligence, ChatGPT gets about 3.5M new downloads per week from the App Store and Google Play. New entrant Copilot launched strong with a million weekly downloads which declined to about 400K fairly quickly.

With the help of a massive Apple Search Ads campaign, Copilot's downloads are back above a million, but that campaign is one of the biggest and least targeted I've ever seen. According to our Search Ads Insights, the campaign has more than 18K keywords, including popular app names, generic intents, and otherwise useless letter combinations.

Needless to say, don't try this at home unless you have a ton of cash to burn.

The main challenge is that there's a lot of talk about ChatGPT but no talk about Copilot, so it has to be "shoved" in people's faces to get them until there's enough momentum.

If Gemini launched as a standalone app it'd be in the same situation. And we can see by looking at downloads of Gemini on Google Play, where it was launched as a standalone app - and they're very small - averaging 100K downloads per week, according to our estimates.

But! The Google app gets about 2M downloads per week already. Not as big as ChatGPT but much closer than Copilot and without any extra spend. So by putting Gemini into the Google app, they're getting free visibility and millions of downloads.

I initially didn't think this made any sense, but looking at the numbers I changed my mind. It doesn't mean this strategy will make Gemini competitive, but it now has a much better shot.

There is one temporary issue with this strategy...

Attack of the Gemini Clones

According to Explorer, there are already 13 apps on the App Store that have Gemini and AI in their name.

Why? Because there are people who saw Google's announcement and are looking for Gemini in the App Store expecting it to be there. Not enough for Google to beat ChatGPT but enough for smaller developers to feast on.

I'm sure Google considered it and I'm sure the takedown notices are coming, just like they did with ChatGPT last year, but for a short time, Google created a great opportunity for developers who will likely keep those users subscribed even after they rename their app.

2. Slow but Steady - Twitter's Recovery from its Abrupt Rebranding Continued in January

When Twitter became X, downloads got cut in nearly half. That's millions of downloads that are simply not happening because people who are looking for Twitter can't find it.

But as time goes on X is becoming a more common name and people are associating it with Twitter more.

How much more?

In this month's check-in, we're going to look at the recovery in terms of downloads and also revenue, which is continuing to grow despite the abrupt name change.

According to our App Intelligence, X saw 9.3M downloads in January, an 11% increase from December. This is the second month of download growth for X and what I expect to become the beginning of its recovery after its abrupt rebranding.

Keep in mind that downloads are still much lower than what they were pre-rebranding. For context, last January, Twitter saw 14.6M downloads and averaged 13M downloads per month in 2023 until the name change.

So, there's a lot of ground X has to make up and fast because Threads is a growing threat.

How About Revenue?

Revenue is also on the rise, but not as much as expected.

Our estimates show X earned $7.9M of net revenue, that's after store fees, in January from the App Store and Google Play.

That's a 4% increase when compared to December, or roughly $200K in absolute terms. So, not a lot.

For comparison, Snapchat's mobile revenue rose 25% in January earning the yellow ghost another $5M in net revenue, according to our estimates.

3. Downloads Slow Down in January - The Most Downloaded Apps

January is officially behind us, which means it's time to rank the most downloaded mobile apps in the world. Downloads have dropped a bunch from December but the ranks are fairly similar.

Actually, only one app dropped out - can you guess which one it is?

No, it's not Threads, which ranked 8th overall in January with 23M estimated downloads. A bit lower than January, when it ranked 6th.

Instagram was the most downloaded app in the world in January. It made its way into 52M devices according to our App Intelligence.

Rival TikTok was kind of behind it with 46M estimated downloads. The two used to be a lot closer but the gap has been growing over the last few months with Instagram on top. That would end if/when TikTok is unbanned in India, but I don't see a clear path to that goal right now.

Facebook, WhatsApp, and CapCut round out the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world in January. If you look close enough you'll see two developers own the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world. That's kind of wild.

And if you're comparing this list to January's you'll notice it's identical. The same 5 apps held the exact same positions but with fewer downloads in January.

The top is very hard to break into, making it even more special to see an app that isn't one of these 5 in there. CapCut was the latest entry pushing down WhatsApp.

The last app to climb to the top was Threads back in July.

So which app disappeared? Spotify. It ranked 10th overall in December but lost to WhatsApp Business in January.

According to our estimates, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world made their way into 314M devices. About 20M downloads shy of December, which isn't that much of a surprise and also confirmed by The Mobile Download Index, which is showing this decline across the entire store.


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Downloads are great but money is greater.

4. Can't Beat TikTok - The Highest Earning Apps in January

I ranked the highest-earning mobile apps in the world in January. After December's mega month I wasn't sure what to expect.

TikTok was the highest-earning app in the world in January, earning $196M of net revenue according to our estimates.

I can't really remember when TikTok wasn't the leader in our rankings, but what I do remember is that TikTok earned about a quarter of the revenue just a year or so ago.

YouTube was the second highest-earning app in January with an estimated net revenue of $110M. Similar to TikTok, YouTube's revenue was less than half of what it is now a year ago.

The same group we've seen dominate the top five didn't fail to surprise in January. Disney+, Tinder, and Max round out the top five highest-earning apps in the world.

Normally this is where I end the analysis because the bottom five are less exciting, but not this time!

Duolingo made it to #6 on our combined list with $45M of estimated net revenue. Although it isn't the first time we see the green owl on our charts it's the highest rank it's ever achieved.

Bumble came in 7th and LinkedIn at 8th. Both aren't foreign in this part of the chart but Audible and Crunchyroll, at 9th and 10th places kind of are.

Together, the top 10 highest-earning apps raked $748M of net revenue in January, according to our App Intelligence. Net means what these publishers get to keep after handing Apple and Google their fees.

If you're comparing this total to December's you'll notice it's lower by quite a few millions, and that's expected - every app dropped just a little bit.

5. AI Enters the Browser Wars

When it comes to browsers on your iPhone most use Safari and those who don't generally use Chrome - the most downloaded mobile browser from the App Store.

Entering the fray, Arc Search differentiates itself by leveraging AI, a feature neither Safari nor Chrome offer.

Arc Search is a smarter browser that uses AI to turn search results into what feels like a ChatGPT answer while sprinkling other little conveniences that aim to improve the entire experience.

Has The Browser Company succeeded in building a better mousetrap?

Arc Search has been out for a few weeks now so let's have a look at the downloads.

Since launching in late January, Arc Search was downloaded 401K times from the App Store, according to our estimates.

Downloads started high - 41K on launch day, dropped a bunch, spiked again about a week later to 48K, and then dropped to around 10K a day, according to our estimates.

The US contributed a big chunk of the downloads - roughly 31% overall. Saudi Arabia was a distant second with 5.9%. Germany, India, and Egypt round out the top 5 countries with 5.5%, 4.7%, and 3.8% share respectively.

That's a diverse top that isn't exactly common these days. It's interesting to see where AI is being picked up the most.

Back to the main question - Has Arc taken over Google Chrome? Not really.

Not Google, But...

While Arc Search was collecting its 401K downloads, Google Chrome saw 5.6M new downloads. And these two figures are only for the App Store because Arc Search isn't available on Google Play.

But there's some good news. While taking on Google is nearly impossible right now, there are other browsers in the App Store. When you compare Arc's downloads to Firefox (434K) and Microsoft Edge (1.3M) things look more promising.

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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