This Week in Apps - Gotta Google

Ariel Ariel
9 minute read May. 31

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
418.51 +10.4%
Google Play
272.80 -5.2%


1. How Many Apps and Games Get More Than 1,000,000 Downloads Every Month?

A million is a nice number, right? I was curious, how many mobile apps and games get a million or more downloads every month and the number may surprise you a bit. I say that because last time I asked my followers to guess they were waaaaaaay off.

Last year, I crunched the numbers and discovered 1,305 apps and games with 1M+ downloads.

What do you think that number is today?

1,408. Exactly 103 apps more than last year (or 8% more).

Let's analyze these apps and games to see who's seeing these numbers.

Using Explorer I grabbed all 1,408 apps and games and analyzed them. Let's start by answering the simplest question - are there more apps or games on the list?

Apps, but not by that much. 47% of the 1,408 apps and games on this list are games, and the remaining 53% are apps. The downloads align as well. According to our App Intelligence, the games on this list were downloaded 1.6B times, while the apps on this list were downloaded 2B times.

B for Billion!

All the big names you could probably guess (or see in our most-downloaded apps and games series) are on this list so I'll skipp those and dig a bit deeper to see whoe else is getting so many downloads.

My analysis shows lots of apps for photo and video editing, food delivery, fitness at home, and even a few VPN apps.

Looking at the numbers by store, it's Google Play that has the upper hand (more like two hands). 87% of all apps and games getting more than 1M downloads are on Google Play. That includes both games and apps. Apple has 13% of those.

The downloads are massive! According to our estimates, those 87% of apps generated a little over 3B downloads last month vs a little under 500M from the App Store.

The top categories by number of apps are:

  • App Store: Photo & Video (39), Social Networking (19), Productivity (14)
  • Google Play: Tools (105), Social (36), Communication (33)

So, if you want downloads you have to be on Google Play!

There are many more ways I can slice this dataset but I think this gives you a good enough picture of where the downloads are. If you have a specific question this dataset can answer ask me on X/LinkedIn. And also let me know if you want me to do this for revenue.

2. Four Unknown VPN Apps Have Taken Over the US App Store

I noticed a few VPNs on the Most Downloaded Apps list on the App Store today. It's not abnormal to see one somewhere in the top 50 but there are currently four in the top 20!

And what's even more interesting is that none are names I recognize or that advertise heavily.

The four include Turbo VPN Private Broswer, _Thunder VPN - Secure & VPN Pro, VPN - Super Unlimited Proxy, and VPN - Free VPN Super. Do you see what I see?

All of these names are basically a bunch of keywords used for discovery. And guess what, three of those show up in the top 5 results when searching for "VPN" in the US App Store.

Our App Intelligence shows downloads for the four have gone up 450% on Thursday from a daily average of just about 37K to 208K in the US App Store alone. The increase was also felt globally, but the US is by far the main driver of downloads, so I'm focusing on that.

The biggest winner was Thunder VPN. It's downloads rose more than 4,000% to 65K on Thursday. Not the most. That title goes to Super Unlimited, which saw downloads reach 96K on Thursday, according to our estimates. It's daily average before was already high though, so the growth is just 114%.

And here's the thing - I don't know why these apps are on the rise.

I looked at Apple Search Ads and it's not it. Three of the four don't even advertise. It's also rare to see such a spike for an already popular keyword with ASO. The last option is some sort of manipulation for ASO. I've seen manipulation campaigns in the past but none at this scale so I'm not sure that's it either.

Regardless of why, the real test is whether these will stick. So far, downloads of all but the one that uses Apple Search Ads are on the decline but still tending higher than where they started. Let's see how long that'll last.

What's your guess about this?

3. Is Crypto Heating Up Again? Phantom Wallet's Downloads Shoot Up

If you've been following the newsletter for a while you know that crypto isn't something I talk about often. Not because I don't like it but rather because there was really nothing interesting happening with crypto on mobile after bitcoin's rise back in the early days of the pandemic.

Last week something potentially interesting happened.

I noticed Phantom, a crypto wallet app, pop up in the top apps charts on the App Store and Google Play. That hasn't happened in a while, so I just had to dig in a bit more.

The rise wasn't the result of an ad campaign or the app going viral on TikTok. So what's going on?

Phantom, a wallet app which is backed by a16z (Andreessen Horowitz) acquired another wallet app also backed by a16z. On the surface that's pretty standard, but there's a bit more to this.

See, Phantom was pretty popular with Solana, but over the last year added support for all other major blockchain networks. Also important, Phantom is a non-custodial wallet, which means everything is stored on device and not in the cloud like on Coinbase or other household platforms.

In terms of downloads, our estimates show that Phantom's daily downloads rose from under 20K in early May to more than 200K on Tuesday, the app's peak.

Downloads across both stores rose gradually over the last few weeks but the majority of the downloads, roughly 75%, came from Google Play with the rest coming from the App Store. The US is the main driver of downloads on both platforms but India is a close second on Google Play while Russia is a distant second on the App Store.

We estimate that Phantom saw 1.9M downloads since downloads started rising on the 16th. That's roughly 1.6M downloads more than what it would have gotten otherwise - more than 600% higher.

With this acquisition, Phantom is trying to make crypto easier to get started with and with powerful investors behind it, and as prices are on the rise, it just might.

FYI - I'm no crypto expert so if I messed something up please let me know.

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4. Monopoly Go's Downloads Dropped 70% Since its Peak - Revenue Didn't

Monopoly Go is a game you can't miss. Not necessarily because of its features but rather because it's everywhere.

Since its launch last year, the game has been at the top of the downloads and revenue charts consistently.

Lately, however, downloads have been on the decline and I was curious to see what's going on with the numbers and whether less downloads = less revenue.

Short answer - it doesn't.

Monopoly Go is one of the biggest advertisers on mobile, spending intelligently and clearly being able to convert well. In terms of downloads, our estimates show that means millions of downloads right out of the gates.

In April of last year, our estimates show the game made its way into 8.5M devices through the App Store and Google Play, globally. The trend mostly continued to rise until peaking in August with 13M estimated downloads - and this is a conservative estimate.

And like many before it, a peak meant downloads would trend down from there on out, and they did, only rising a bit during December, which is to be expected.

Monopoly Go ended May with 4M downloads, down 70%. That's a lot of downloads it's not getting. Naturally, you'd expect revenue to also tank but that doesn't seem to be the immediate case here.

Like downloads, Monopoly Go's revenue started off high. Our estimates show it earned $7.4M in net revenue (after store fees) in April of last year and hit the $100M mark within 5 months. It actually skipped $100M and went right to $115M in August, according to our estimates. But unlike downloads, it didn't stop there.

Although growth slowed a bunch, net revenue continued to rise peaking at $127M in March of this year. It's dropped since then, but not nearly as fast as the downloads - which is why I think this is all about balancing ROI, which I imagine is really fun at that scale.

In addition to advertising, I think an important component of Monopoly Go's success is the lack of competition. It's riding a well known IP that's soooo casual anyone can join. Not many games do it at that scale. Squad Busters, Supercell's latest release, might. We'll have to wait and see.

5. 3D Scanning is a Real Business - Polycam Reaches Revenue Milestone

If you know me you know I like making things. Real things. 3D printing in particular is one of my favorites.

The problem with 3D printing is that you have to design the things you want to make first. Easy for some, harder for others. That's why 3D scanners exist. But... the hardware is incredibly expensive for a quality scanner, and even the high quality ones aren't a plug and play.

Well, things may be changing!

Polycam is an app that replaces 3D scanners. It leverages the LiDAR and cameras of the iPhone to generate 3D models and is super easy to use.

I've been following its evolution for a while and now that it hit a major milestone I'm starting to think this might be a real business.

The milestone I'm referring to is revenue. According to our estimates, consumer spending (gross revenue) in Polycam has crossed $1M for the first time in May.

Looking at the trend, it's also very organic, which makes sense considering this it serves a pretty specific niche.

Our estimates show Polycam generated $280K in gross revenue in its first full year out. Things rose more quickly in 2022 as Polycam's gross revenue for the year exceeded $1.8M, and skyrocketed in 2023 with $6.5M of gross revenue. Gross revenue has surpassed $4M already this year and we're barely half year in so I expect the total to be much higher.

As a maker I'm pretty happy to see something that used to cost thousands be available in my pocket for a few bucks a month, and with that success I'm sure competition will rise and possibly push for an even better product.

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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