This Week in Apps - A New Trend?

Ariel Ariel
9 minute read Mar. 15

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
466.15 -5.6%
Google Play
291.38 +2.95%

Welcome to the 200th edition of This Week in Apps!

Insights

1. Apple's Sherlocking Again - Can These Apps Survive?

Apple released a dedicated app for sports scores in February and I've been watching it closely because it sherlocks a small but busy area of the App Store.

When Apple Sports came out I was sure it would crush the competition. After all, it's Apple, it's free, and it's native, right?

Now that we have a few weeks of download estimates, we can answer this question.

And the easy answer is... it didn't, and I know why.

Let's start with the numbers.

Apple Sports rolled out on February 22nd, which also happened to be its highest day of downloads peaking at 118K, according to our estimates. Compared to the daily average for similar apps, that's more than 1,311% higher.

But that didn't last long. Downloads dropped to 92K on Friday, 57K on Saturday, and by the following Monday, were at just 11K, about 1/10th of where they started.

Since launch, Apple Sports saw a total of 413K downloads, according to our App Intelligence. Most of those downloads came in during the first four days of its release.

Since the initial release, Apple Sports' downloads have dropped below the top competitors, which range between 4K and 10K, according to our estimates.

So, what's going on? Why is the biggest brand on the App Store losing?

Discovery!

Most downloads start with an ad or a search. When it comes to search, Apple Sports is barely visible.

Fotmob, a soccer scores app and one of the top competitors in this group, ranks organically in over 2,300 keywords and is the #1 result for nearly all combinations of soccer (and football) and scores.

Apple Sports doesn't rank in any.

On the surface, Apple Sports' metadata isn't terrible, but it's also not very specific. That's always a challenge when your app does many things, but there are quite a few ways to handle it - none of which Apple seems to be using.

It's also possible Apple is holding back for some reason, but I find that hard to believe.

At this point, App Store Optimization is not just a nice to have but rather a necessity. ASO isn't hard so make sure you spend some time on it.

2. Is a Ban Coming? The Most Downloaded Apps in the World

TikTok is in the news again because the US, again, wants to ban it. This isn't the first time but things are looking pretty serious. Do you think it'll actually happen?

I'm sure that would make Instagram, the most downloaded app in the world in February, very happy.

Instagram found 56M new downloads in February from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. Mostly from Google Play, where it was the most downloaded app. Instagram has been the most downloaded app for 3 months now after dethroning TikTok back in December.

TikTok came in second in February with 45M downloads. TikTok's downloads have been on the decline since May of 2023 and are now at the lowest they've been since. 3.5M of those downloads came from the US, according to our estimates, so a ban won't really hurt the video giant.

Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram round out the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world. Telegram hasn't seen a top 5 rank since November of last year.

Threads made the chart again in February, retaining its 8th spot with 22M estimated downloads in February. Rival X has never made the top 10 list but ended February in 23rd place, up from January, so maybe we'll see it here at some point.

There were a few other movements in February, but the charts are generally stable.

According to our App Intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world were downloaded 313M times in February. A smidge lower than January's total, but nothing abnormal.

3. Snapchat's Mobile Revenue Takes a Plunge in February

Last time I looked at Snapchat's mobile revenue it was growing at an astounding rate, far surpassing X. That was back in December. Let's see if the new year was as kind to Snapchat as the last.

According to our estimates, Snapchat earned a total of $21M in net revenue -- what Snap gets to keep after Apple and Google take their fees -- in February.

That's a pretty nice number, but it's just a smidge lower than November's total of $22M and a bunch lower than January's $24M.

Up until November, Snapchat's revenue has only declined once but since it's been up and down multiple times.

But there's good news. A quick back of the napkin calculation shows Snapchat Plus has around 7.4M subscribers. The real number might be a bit higher when adjusted for annual subscribers, but even at this level, that's a lot of paying users!

Given its young audience, I fully expect churn to be high and not to see many annual subscriptions, which isn't helping. That's probably why we're seeing high variance between months.

So far, Snapchat Plus' growth was mainly driven by features. So the question is, what's coming next?


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4. Did Hyper Casual Games Beat App Tracking Transparency? The Most Downloaded Games in the World

January is behind us, and after the upside-down it was for games, I'm very curious to see if the trend continues - if hyper casual games are back.

I ranked the most downloaded mobile games in the world in February and the answer is...

Yes! Hyper casual games continued to occupy the top charts after taking a looooong hiatus "thanks" in part to Apple's App Tracking Transparency which made advertising these extra expensive.

But just like January, one thing is constant - Subway Surfers remained the most downloaded mobile game in the world with 19M estimated downloads in February. A tad down from January but February was also a shorter month.

Royal Match also kept its second place bringing in 18M new downloads from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates.

Block Blast and Roblox flipped with the former taking the lead, and rounding out the top 5 is a hyper casual that stars on both the App Store (2nd place) and Google Play (6th). It's been a long time since that happened.

Ludo King and Build A Queen join Wood Nuts & Bolts as hyper casuals of the month. It might seem low compared to pre-ATT days, but considering we barely saw any hyper casuals since, this is more than expected.

According to out estimates, the most downloaded mobile games in the world collected 136M new downloads from the App Store and Google Play. This is lower than January by about 3.5% but February was a shorter month so I'm not alarmed.

5. Is ShortTV the Future of Video Streaming?

Things were busy on the App Store this week! More apps claimed the #1 position this week than in most prior weeks, which is a pretty big achievement considering how glued Temu was to the top spot for so long.

Sitting in the top position right now is ShortTV, a streaming app from Hong Kong that offers short TV-like shows.

This isn't new. ReelShort, a very similar app, took command of the App Store back in November and has been ranking fairly high since. ShortTV is very similar.

Is this a new trend?

Since rolling out back in September, ShortTV was downloaded 8.2M times across the App Store and Google Play, according to our App Intelligence. But it's important to note that most of these downloads, roughly 84%, came from Google Play. This will become important very soon.

Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines are ShortTV's biggest markets so far. Indonesia and the Philippines are pretty big for rival ReelShort as well.

Even though ShortTV has been out for nearly 6 months, downloads didn't really start to pick up until this January, and likely heavily supported by paid ads. ShortTV is using Apple Search Ads spending on more than 600 keywords, according to our Search Ads insights. ReelShort's ASA campaign is a bit larger but not by much.

Downloads more than quadrupled in early January from an average of around 15K downloads per day to more than 70K, according to our estimates. In addition to this shift, ShortTV has also seen downloads spike well above 100K per day several times since the growth spurt started.

Is this spend worth it?

Yes, it is.

Since launching, ShortTV has earned $8.4M of net revenue -- what's left after Apple and Google take their fees -- according to our estimates.

Unlike traditional streamers, watching shows on ShortTV requires coins, which you can purchase through the app. The same monetization strategy employed by ReelShort.

Diving deeper into ShortTV's revenue, things start to get weird.

Our estimates show ShortTV's revenue spiked for a few days at the en dof December. This isn't weird considering people are home for the holidays. What is weird is that this spike happened before downloads started to rise. It also declined fairly quickly after and then revenue from Google Play start rising.

In fact, since early January, Google Play has earned ShortTV more revenue than the App Store -- between 2-3x -- that's pretty weird!

The App Store is back on top this week though, with both climbing fast.

On Wednesday, ShortTV saw $180K of net revenue, the most the app has ever seen in a single day, from the App Store and Google Play, according to our estimates. Revenue from both was nearly the same with the App Store beating Google Play by $10K.

And I'm not done with weird just yet!

Even though the US is a distant 4th in terms of downloads it is the top earner for ShortTV, and by a whole lot. The US has earned $4.3M of net revenue -- about half of its total. Indonesia was the second highest earner with around $800K.

And the last interesting insight - The difference in revenue per download between the App Store and Google Play is astonishing. According to our estimates, net RPD on the App Store is $2.62, while on Google Play it's just $0.72.

Charging a made-up currency gives ShortTV a lot of flexibility in how they incentivize engagement which they can later turn into revenue. One strategy could be to charge App Store users more quickly because they'll pay but keep Android users engaged for free longer to get them hooked.

I didn't "have short dramas taking over mobile" on my bingo card, but it just might.

All of this is still too small to be noticed by the bigger streams - Let's see if that changes.

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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