This Week in Apps - Cold start

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read May. 10

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
443.02 +1.0%
Google Play
282.74 -5.0%

Insights

1. Competing with ChatGPT on Mobile is Harder Than Anthropic Thought

I think it's fair to say that ChatGPT is AI for many. Especially those not in tech.

How can I say that so nonchalantly?

Last week, Claude, a competing model that's fairly similar in capabilities (not including the new 4o model), launched on the App Store after being web-only for a while now.

Its reception was, as Sarah Perez from TechCrunch described it, tepid. And I think that's a nice way to say it because the data is a bit colder.

According to our App Intelligence, Claude was downloaded 183K times in its first 11 days on the App Store. There's no Android version yet. The US led the way, contributing about 50% of that total, with Japan, the UK, Taiwan, and Thailand rounding out the top 5. All but Japan contributed a single-digit percent to the total.

In comparison, we estimate that ChatGPT saw 1.6M downloads in its first 11 days on the App Store. I didn't calculate the percent difference because it's too big to be useful.

Like ChatGPT, Claude offers a free tier with limitations and a $20 monthly subscription. Our estimates show that since release, Claude earned $31K in net revenue from the App Store. A rough calculation shows Claude likely has about 1,800 mobile subscriptions so far, most from the US.

I hate to do it again, but I have to - ChatGPT earned $558K of net revenue in the same period since launch.

Here's why I think this launch is not "crushing it" as some expected:

  1. Claude isn't nearly as popular as ChatGPT and doesn't have much brand recognition with the masses.
  2. The app's ASO is terrible. The app's name has no indication of what it does, nor does its icon. The subtitle does, but very minimally. Not enough for Apple's algorithm to rank it very high for AI-related keywords and even less for people who are looking for "AI". It's pretty clear that whoever did that simply copied ChatGPT's metadata.
  3. Speaking of copying things, the app's UI looks a lot like an orange version of ChatGPT but not in a good and familiar way but rather by copying ChatGPT's shortcomings like its contextless focus on upselling.

I didn't mean to sound mean or harsh here, but I think Anthropic really fumbled this launch, and that was very easy to avoid. If indie devs can launch properly, heavily VC-backed companies like Anthropic can take the hour that's required to do the organic part right.

That said, I think the rollout of GPT-4o is a game changer, especially as it's now available to free users as well. More on that next week!

2. Can Signal Survive the Latest Blow from Elon and Telegram?

Telegram decided to pick on Signal this week and Elon Musk took a stab at it too, and that led me to look at how the two are performing.

If you follow my insights you know that Telegram started monetizing its users following X and Snapchat, and that revenue is growing consistently.

But what about Signal, the other secure messaging app that Elon Musk and Edward Snowden once pushed for?

I say once because this week Elon changed his tune and is now pushing for Telegram. That can't be great for Signal...

Let's dig into some data, and I think the reason for the feud will become more apparent.

In terms of downloads, it's hard to consider the two competitors. Our estimates show Signal saw 10M downloads so far in 2024 while Telegram saw 124M downloads. And Signal's trend is pretty stagnant.

Signal isn't eating into Telegram's downloads one bit.

Signal has gone on the defensive immediately after a long post from Telegram's CEO was published and later a post from Elon Musk and a few others, but we have to keep something important in mind - Signal is a nonprofit organization that's operating an open-source service while Telegram is a for-profit company that's monetizing its users.

According to our App Intelligence, Telegram generated $36M in net revenue (after store fees) in 2023, and the trend is moving up and to the right. We estimate that Telegram earned $5.3M in April, up 15% from January.

This is just speculation, but I see a for-profit company trying to eliminate the competition. With Signal out, Telegram's only real competitor is WhatsApp - a bigger competitor but also a less trusted one.

What do you think?

3. Demand for Mental Health Apps is at an All-Time Low

Not that long ago, meditation apps (aka mental health apps) were one of the fastest growing segments on the App Store and Google Play - both by downloads and popularity.

That trend has been on the negative side for a few years now, and according to our estimates, it reached an all-time low in April. Revenue, however, looks very different.

According to our App Intelligence, demand for Calm and Headspace, which we measure in downloads, is down 61% and 74%, respectively since 2018. And I'm not even trying to push the numbers - 2018 was a pretty neutral starting point. If I wanted that I'd compare April's downloads to Calm's peak, which came in January of 2021.

Number-wise, Calm started with 1.3M estimated downloads with Headspace right below it with 1.2M estimated downloads. That was all the way back in January of 2018.

Headspace has been on a pretty slow downtrend since while Calm rose during the covid years, peaking at 3.4M estimated downloads in January of 2021. That was also the beginning of the end for Calm.

In April of 2024, Calm saw 508K estimated downloads and Headspace just 324K estimated downloads.

If this trend continues, the two will dip into the tens by the year's end.

Revenue looks better but is not trending that well either. Our App Intelligence shows Headspace has earned less in the first four months of the year when compared to 2023. Not by a ton - $19M vs $20M - but it should be the other way around. Oh, and that's net, which means what's left _after store fees.

Calm is doing better. Revenue is up 30% vs 2023, however, the peaks just aren't there.

A slew of competitors, both big and small, have been flooding the App Store and Google Play. Combine that with the "reopening of everything" and you see why this is problematic.

Calm is running aggressive monetization campaigns, which are contributing to the growth, but considering their expensive catalog full of celebrities, I doubt that's enough in the long term.

I'm sure Calm can figure it out, but if you're thinking of building an app for this space I urge you to think twice.


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4. Temu's Up, Threads Down - The Most Downloaded Apps in April

April is behind us, which means it's time to look at the most downloaded apps - I did, and can tell you April was a weird month...

And by weird I mean stagnant.

Instagram was the most downloaded app in the world in April. Our estimates show it made its way into 55M more devices globally. Instagram rose a single rank and dethroned sibling Facebook, which dropped to second place.

Facebook's issue-less month meant a drop in downloads, but it's still growing! Our App Intelligence shows Facebook was downloaded 48M times from the App Store and Google Play in April.

TikTok, WhatsApp, and Telegram round out the top 5 most downloaded apps in April. Even though their ranks are the same as they were in March, downloads rose a bit across all three.

A few highlights:

  1. Temu lost its top spot to temporary risers but seems to be regaining momentum. A 10% increase in downloads pushed it up into the 7th spot in our chart.
  2. Threads has lost some momentum. Downloads dropped a bit in April leading the app to fall from #6 → #10 in April.
  3. JioCinema, a no-so-new streaming app for India, has seen downloads rise sharply in April. The service recently rolled out an app for its premium service and added Anime to its catalog.

Together, the top 10 most downloaded apps in the world saw 325M downloads in April, according to our App Intelligence. A bit short when compared to March, but March was a pretty big month all around so this isn't a surprise.

5. Winners be Winning - The Highest Earning Apps in April

I crunched the numbers and rounded up the highest-earning apps in the App Store and Google Play in April, and much like downloads, April was pretty stagnant...

Actually, that's not exactly true - Unlike downloads, revenue was very stagnant.

Let's have a look at the lists:

TikTok was the highest-earning app in the world in April. Hot on the heels of a possible US ban and a counter lawsuit, the controversial platform continues a big revenue run that started in late 2023. April's estimated $192 net revenue haul isn't the most it's earned recently, but is still significantly higher than the same time last year.

YouTube, Disney+, Tinder, and Max round out the top 5 in April - the same list as March, in case you were comparing. All saw a small increase in revenue in April except for Disney+ which dropped a teeny tiny bit.

Now that we've covered the incumbents, I want to turn your attention to the bottom of the list. That's the only area that changed in April.

Duolingo, now #7, rose from #10 thanks to a tiny revenue increase. Tencent Video and Google One are fresh names on the list. And it's important to note the former's rank is only based on revenue from the App Store because Google Play isn't available in China and that's the only place the app is available. Google One is available across both platforms but makes almost all of its revenue from Google Play.

Having these two on the list is pretty impressive.

Together, the top 10 highest-earning mobile apps in the world added $763M of net revenue to their bottom lines, according to our App Intelligence. A bit less than March's total, but still trending much higher than last April. That's a great sign for app developers.

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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