Архив метки: Sensor Tower

App revenue tops $39 billion in first half of 2019, up 15% from first half of last year

App store spending is continuing to grow, although not as quickly as in years past. According to a new report from Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store and Google Play combined brought in $39.7 billion in worldwide app revenue in the first half of 2019 — that’s up 15.4% over the $34.4 billion seen during the first half of last year. However, at that time, the $34.4 billion was a 27.8% increase from 2017’s numbers, then a combined $26.9 billion across both stores.
Apple’s App Store continues to massively outpace Google Play on consumer spending, the report also found.
In the first half of 2019, global consumers spent $25.5 billion on the iOS App Store, up 13.2% year-over-year from the $22.6 billion spent in the first half of 2018. Last year, the growth in consumer spending was 26.8%, for comparison’s sake.
Still, Apple’s estimated $25.5 billion in the first half of 2019 is 80% higher than Google Play’s estimated gross revenue of $14.2 billion — the latter a 19.6% increase from the first half of 2018.
The major factor in the slowing growth is iOS in China, which contributed to the slowdown in total growth. However, Sensor Tower expects to see China returning to positive growth over the next 12 months, we’re told.
To a smaller extent, the downturn could be attributed to changes with one of the top-earning apps across both app stores: Netflix.
Last year, Netflix dropped in-app subscription sign-ups for Android users. Then, at the end of December 2018, it did so for iOS users, too. That doesn’t immediately drop its revenue to zero, of course — it will continue to generate revenue from existing subscribers. But the number will decline, especially as Netflix expands globally without an in-app purchase option, and as lapsed subscribers return to renew online with Netflix directly.
In the first half of 2019, Netflix was the second highest earning non-game app with consumer spending of $339 million, Sensor Tower estimates, down from $459 million in the first half of 2018. (We should point out the firm bases its estimates on a 70/30 split between Netflix and Apple’s App Store that drops to 85/15 after the first year. To account for the mix of old and new subscribers, Sensor Tower factors in a 25% cut. But Daring Fireball’s John Gruber claims Netflix had a special relationship with Apple where it had an 85/15 cut from year one.)
In any event, Netflix’s contribution to the app stores’ revenue is on the decline.
In the first half of last year, Netflix had been the No. 1 non-game app for revenue. This year, that spot went to Tinder, which pulled in an estimated $497 million across the iOS App Store and Google Play, combined. That’s up 32% over the first half of 2018.

But Tinder’s dominance could be a trend that doesn’t last.
According to recent data from eMarketer, dating app audiences have been growing slower than expected, causing the analyst firm to revise its user estimates downward. It now expects that 25.1 million U.S. adults will use a dating app monthly this year, down from its previous forecast of 25.4 million. It also expects that only 21% of U.S. single adults will use a dating app at all in 2019, and that will only grow to 23% by 2023.
That means Tinder’s time at the top could be overrun by newcomers in later months, especially as new streaming services get off the ground (assuming they offer in-app subscriptions); if TikTok starts taking monetization seriously; or if any other large apps from China find global audiences outside of China’s third-party app stores.
For example, Tencent Video grossed $278 million globally in the first half of 2019, outside of the third-party Chinese Android app stores. That made it the third-largest non-game app by revenue. And Chinese video platform iQIYI and YouTube were the No. 4 and No. 5 top-grossing apps, respectively.
Meanwhile, iOS app installs actually declined in the first half of the year, following the first quarter that saw a decline in downloads, Q1 2019, attributed to the downturn in China.
The App Store in the first half of 2019 accounted for 14.8 billion of the total 56.7 billion app installs.
Google Play installs in the first half of the year grew 16.4% to 41.9 billion, or about 2.8 times greater than the iOS volume.

The most downloaded apps in the first half of 2019 were the same as before: WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook led the top charts. But TikTok inched ahead of Instagram for the No. 4 spot, and it saw its installs grow around 28% to nearly 344 million worldwide.
In terms of mobile gaming specifically, spending was up 11.3% year-over-year in the first half of 2019, reaching $29.6 billion across the iOS App Store and Google Play. Thanks to the fallout of the game licensing freeze in China, App Store revenue growth for games was at $17.6 billion, or 7.8% year-over-year growth. Google Play game spending grew by 16.8% to $12 billion.
The top-grossing games, in order, were Tencent’s Honor of Kings, Fate/Grand Order, Monster Strike, Candy Crush Saga and PUBG Mobile.

Meanwhile, the most downloaded games were Color Bump 3D, Garena Free Fire and PUBG Mobile.
Image credits: Sensor Tower

App revenue tops $39 billion in first half of 2019, up 15% from first half of last year

Go chat yourself with Facebook’s new Portal companion app

Ignoring calls that it’s creepy, Facebook is forging onward with its Portal smart display. Today Facebook quietly launched iOS and Android Portal apps that let owners show off photos on the screen without sharing them to the social network, and video call their home while they’re out.

The app isn’t likely to move the needle for Portal whose potential users fall into two camps: those so alarmed by Facebook’s privacy practices that they couldn’t imagine putting its camera and microphone in their home, and those ambivalent or ignorant regarding the privacy backlash who see it as an Amazon Echo with a nice screen and easy way to video call family. Critics were mostly surprised by the device’s quality but too freaked out to recommend it. Those willing to buy it have given it a 4- to 4.4-star average rating on Amazon, praising its AI camera that keeps people in frame of a video chat while they move though jeering some setup difficulties.
Facebook announced at f8 a month ago that the Portal app was coming and eventually so would encrypted WhatsApp video calls. It also extended sales to Europe and Canada, though the new app is currently only available in the US according to Sensor Tower which tipped us off to the launch. The $199 10-inch Portal and $349 15.6-inch Portal+ launched in October, soured by a swirl of Facebook privacy scandals. Last week, the company tried to score some points with the public by funding an art project displayed at the SF Museum Of Modern Art. But the “immersive” exhibit was just some Portals stuck to some funky painted wooden backdrops, and it all felt smarmy and forced.
Facebook stuck Portals into wooden backdrops and called it art
Portal’s app lets you video call your Portal so you can say hi to family while you’re out. That’s great for traveling parents or seeing who is around the house in the post-land line age. The app also allows you to add and remove accounts on Portal and manage who’s in your speed dial Favorites, which you could already do from the device. There’s still no Amazon Prime Video or Smart home controls as were promised at F8.
The option to send photos directly from your camera roll to Portal’s Superframe fixes the worst feature of the digital photo frame. Previously you’d have to select just from photo/video albums you’d shared to Facebook. That meant you were only showing off sacchrine photos you were willing to post online, and if you selected Your Photos or Photos Of You, you might end up displaying shots that were embarrassing or that don’t make sense outside of the News Feed.

My workaround was to create a Facebook album of photos for Portal set to be visible only to me, but that was a hassle. Now you can manually grab pics and videos from your phone and send them to Portal without the worry they’ll show up on your profile. Portal also now can show off your Instagram photos, as was announced at F8. Still missing is Google Assistant support, which Facebook told me it was working to integrate last year.
Facebook’s steady improvements to Portal might not have shook its paranoia-inducing reputation amongst tech news readers and privacy enthusiasts, but they’ve kept it perhaps the best big screen and camera-equipped smart speaker. But in the seven months since launch, Google has copied Portal’s auto-framing camera for video chat in its new Nest Hub Max while Amazon is making a slew of home appliances smart. Portal will need more marquee innovations and some brand rehabilitation if it’s going to stay competitive.

Facebook launches Portal auto-zooming video chat screens for $199/$349

Go chat yourself with Facebook’s new Portal companion app

Instagram’s vertical IGTV surrenders to landscape status quo

A year ago Instagram made a bold bet with the launch of IGTV: That it could invent and popularize a new medium of long-form vertical videos. Landscape uploads weren’t allowed. Co-founder Kevin Systrom told me in August that “What I’m most proud of is that Instagram took a stand and tried a brand new thing that is frankly hard to pull off. Full-screen vertical video that’s mobile only. That doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
Now a dedicated hub for multi-minute portrait-mode video won’t exist anywhere at all. Following lackluster buy-in from creators loathe to shoot in a proprietary format that’s tough to reuse, IGTV is retreating from its vertical-only policy. Starting today, users can upload traditional horizontal landscape videos too, and they’ll be shown full-screen when users turn their phones sideways while watching IGTV’s standalone app or its hub within the main Instagram app. That should hopefully put an end to crude ports of landscape videos shown tiny with giant letterboxes slapped on to soak up the vertical screen.

Instagram spins it saying, “Ultimately, our vision is to make IGTV a destination for great content no matter how it’s shot so creators can express themselves how they want . . . .  In many ways, opening IGTV to more than just vertical videos is similar to when we opened Instagram to more than just square photos in 2015. It enabled creativity to flourish and engagement to rise – and we believe the same will happen again with IGTV.”
Last year I suggested IGTV might have to embrace landscape after a soggy start. “Loosening up to accept landscape videos too might nullify a differentiator, but also pipe in a flood of content it could then algorithmically curate to bootstrap IGTV’s library. Reducing the friction by allowing people to easily port content to or from elsewhere might make it feel like less of a gamble for creators deciding where to put their production resources,” I wrote.
The coming influx of repurposed YouTube videos could drive more creators and their fans to IGTV. To date there have been no break-out stars, must-see shows or cultural zeitgeist moments on IGTV. Instagram refused to provide a list of the most viewed long-form clips. Sensor Tower estimates just 4.2 million installs to date for IGTV’s standalone app, amounting to less than half a percent of Instagram’s billion-plus users downloading the app. It saw 3.8 times more downloads per day in its first three months on the market than than last month. The iOS app sank to No. 191 on the US – Photo & Video app charts, according to App Annie, and didn’t make the overall chart.
Instagram has tried several changes to reinvigorate IGTV already. It started allowing creators to share IGTV previews to the main Instagram feed that’s capped at 60 seconds. Users can tap through those to watch full clips of up to 60 minutes on IGTV, which has helped to boost view counts for video makers like BabyAriel. And earlier this week we reported that IGTV had been quietly redesigned to ditch its category tabs for a central feed of videos that relies more on algorithmic recommendations like TikTok and a two-wide vertical grid of previews to browse like Snapchat Discover.
But Instagram has still refused to add what creators have been asking for since day one: monetization. Without ways to earn a cut of ad revenue, accept tips, sign up users to a monthly patronage subscription or sell merchandise, it’s been tough to justify shooting a whole premium video in vertical. Producing in landscape would make creators money on YouTube and possibly elsewhere. Now at least creators can shoot once and distribute to IGTV and other apps, which could fill out the feature with content before it figures out monetization.
For viewers and the creators they love, IGTV’s newfound flexibility is a positive. But I can’t help but think this is Instagram’s first truly massive misstep. Nine months after safely copying Snapchat Stories in 2016, Instagram was happy to tout it had 200 million daily users. The company still hasn’t released a single usage stat about IGTV usage. Perhaps after seemingly defeating Snap, Instagram thought it was invincible and could dictate how and what video artists create. But the Facebook pet proved fallible after all. The launch and subsequent rethinking should serve as a lesson. Even the biggest platforms can’t demand people produce elaborate proprietary content for nothing in return but “exposure.”

For IGTV, Instagram needs slow to mean steady

Instagram’s vertical IGTV surrenders to landscape status quo

TikTok is launching a series of online safety videos in its app

On the heels of news that TikTok has reached 1 billion downloads, the company today is launching a new initiative designed to help inform users about online safety, TikTok’s various privacy settings and other controls they can use within its app, and more. Instead of dumping this information in an in-app FAQ or help documentation, the company will release a series of video tutorials that are meant to be engaging and fun, in order to better resemble the other content on TikTok itself.
The safety series, called “You’re in Control,” will star TikTok users and make use of popular memes, in-app editing tricks and other effects, just like other TikTok videos do. The videos will appear in the app and be available through the new @tiktoktips account. 
The videos will focus on a range of privacy, safety and well-being settings and other safety-related policies. This includes TikTok’s Community Guidelines, how in-app reporting works, plus other settings for protecting your privacy, how to control comments, settings to manage your screen time and more.
They’re not exactly your traditional how-to videos, however.
Instead, the videos showcase what’s often more serious issues — like being overrun with unwanted messages — in a humorous fashion. For example, in the video about configuring your message controls, angry commenters are depicted as shouting passengers on an airplane while the user is depicted by an overwhelmed flight attendant.

“Too many DMs?,” the video asks. The flight attendant snaps his fingers, which causes most of the passengers to disappear. The scene returns to peace and quiet. It’s a simple enough analogy for TikTok’s younger user base to understand.
This is then followed by a screen recording that shows you how to turn off messaging within the TikTok app’s settings.
Other videos have a similar style.
A barking, growling dog is used to demonstrate Restricted Mode, for instance. A noisy crowd overlooking someone’s shoulder is the intro on the video about using comment controls.
Another video encourages the use of screen time controls, asking “can’t put your phone down?” and shows someone so wrapped up in their phone they aren’t watching where they’re walking.
But the video about the Community Guidelines is maybe the most cringe-y, as it feels a bit like your parents reminding you to “play nice.” However, it still manages to set a tone for what TikTok wants to promote — a community for “positive vibes” where everyone feels “safe and comfortable.”
At launch, there are seven of these short-form videos in the safety series, which will launch in the TikTok app in the U.S. and U.K on Wednesday. In time, the company plans to add other tutorials and expand the series across its global markets, it says.

Of course, TikTok needs more than a series of videos to make its app a safe and welcoming community, the way it desires. It also needs a combination of policies, settings, controls, technology, moderation and more, the company says. And it needs to comply with COPPA laws – which it’s basically skirting.
That said, a focus on user education is an important aspect to this larger goal — and it stands in stark contrast to how Facebook intentionally made its privacy settings so complex and difficult to find and use for so many of its earlier years that people gave up trying.
How well TikTok can execute on user privacy and safety as the app grows still remains to be seen. For now, it tends to be talked about as either a wholesome and fun video experience, or an online cesspool filled with hateful content and child predators. It’s an app on the internet, so both versions of this story are likely true.
There is no large user-generated content site — even those run by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — that has figured out how to properly police the hatefulness and evil contained in humanity. But TikTok, at least, takes care not to showcase that content in its main feed — you have to seek it out directly (or train its algorithm by never clicking on anything wholesome).
But, so far, TikTok has been better reviewed by child safety advocates than you might expect. For instance, Common Sense Media — a nonprofit that provides unbiased and trusted advice about all sorts of media, including apps — said that the app, used with parental supervision, can be “a kid-friendly experience.”

The launch of the video series comes at a time when TikTok’s growth is surging. The app recently surpassed a billion installs across the iOS App Store and Google Play, including Lite versions and regional variations, but excluding Android installs in China, according to data from Sensor Tower.
Roughly 25 percent of those installs are from India, the report said. And around 663 million of TikTok’s total installs occurred in 2018, which made the app the No. 4 most downloaded non-game for the year.
However, installs alone don’t tell the story of how many people actually use the app or how often. And a chunk of these could be the same user installing the app on multiple devices, or even bots used to push the app up the charts. In addition, parents often download the app their tween or teen is using for monitoring purposes, but don’t engage with the app or its content on a regular basis.
Below, is a compilation of all the new videos launching today:

TikTok is launching a series of online safety videos in its app

US iPhone users spent, on average, $79 on apps last year, up 36% from 2017

Apple’s push to get developers to build subscription-based apps is now having a notable impact on App Store revenues. According to a new report from Sensor Tower due out later this week, revenue generated per U.S. iPhone grew 36 percent, from $58 in 2017 to $79 last year. As is typical, much of that increase can be attributed to mobile gaming, which accounted for more than half of this per-device average. However, more substantial growth took place in the categories outside of gaming — including those categories where subscription-based apps tend to rule the top charts, the firm found.
According to the report’s findings, per-device app spending in the U.S. grew more over the past year than it did in 2017.
From 2017 to 2018, iPhone users spent an average of $21 or more on in-app purchases and paid app downloads — a 36 percent increase compared with the 23 percent increase from 2016 to 2017, when revenue per device grew from $47 to $58.

However, 2018’s figure was slightly lower than the 42 percent increase in average per-device spending seen between 2015 and 2016, when revenue grew from $33 to $47, noted Sensor Tower.
As usual, mobile gaming continued to play a large role in iPhone spending. In 2018, gaming accounted for nearly 56 percent of the average consumer spend — or $44 out of the total $79 spent per iPhone.
But what’s more interesting is how the non-gaming categories fared this past year.
Some categories — including those where subscription-based apps dominate the top charts — saw even higher year-over-year growth in 2018, the firm found.

For example, Entertainment apps grew their spend per device increase by 82 percent to $8 of the total in 2018. Lifestyle apps increased by 86 percent to reach $3.90, up from $2.10.
And though it didn’t make the top five, Health & Fitness apps also grew 75 percent year-over-year to account for an average of $2.70, up from $1.60 in 2017.
Other categories in the top five included Music and Social Networking apps, which both grew by 22 percent.
This data indicates that subscription apps are playing a significant role in helping drive iPhone consumer spending higher.
The news comes at a time when Apple has reported slowing iPhone sales, which is pushing the company to lean more on services to continue to boost its revenue. This includes not just App Store subscriptions, but also things like Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, App Store Search ads, AppleCare and more.
As subscriptions become more popular, Apple will need to remain vigilant against those who would abuse the system.
For example, a number of sneaky subscription apps were found plaguing the App Store in recent weeks. They were duping users into paid memberships with tricky buttons, hidden text, instant trials that converted in days and the use of other misleading tactics.
Apple later cracked down by removing some of the apps, and updated its developer guidelines with stricter rules about how subscriptions should both look and operate.
A failure to properly police the App Store or set boundaries to prevent the overuse of subscriptions could end up turning users off from downloading new apps altogether — especially if users begin to think that every app is after a long-term financial commitment.
Developers will need to be clever to convert users and retain subscribers amid this shift away from paid apps to those that come with a monthly bill. App makers will need to properly market their subscription’s benefits, and even consider offering bundles to increase the value.
But in the near-term, the big takeaway for developers is that there is still good money to be made on the App Store, even if iPhone sales are slowing.

US iPhone users spent, on average, $79 on apps last year, up 36% from 2017