App Annie

Your VPN or ad-blocker app could be collecting your data

Posted by | app analytics, App Annie, app stores, Apple, Apps, Google, Mobile, privacy, sensor tower | No Comments

The underpinnings of how app store analytics platforms operate were exposed this week by BuzzFeed, which uncovered the network of mobile apps used by popular analytics firm Sensor Tower to amass app data. The company had operated at least 20 apps, including VPNs and ad blockers, whose main purpose was to collect app usage data from end users in order to make estimations about app trends and revenues. Unfortunately, these sorts of data collection apps are not new — nor unique to Sensor Tower’s operation.

Sensor Tower was found to operate apps such as Luna VPN, for example, as well as Free and Unlimited VPN, Mobile Data and Adblock Focus, among others. After BuzzFeed reached out, Apple removed Adblock Focus and Google removed Mobile Data. Others are still being investigated, the report said.

Apps’ collection of usage data has been an ongoing issue across the app stores.

Facebook and Google have both operated such apps, not always transparently, and Sensor Tower’s key rival App Annie continues to do the same today.

Facebook

For Facebook, its 2013 acquisition of VPN app maker Onavo for years served as a competitive advantage. The traffic through the app gave Facebook insight into which other social applications were growing in popularity — so Facebook could either clone their features or acquire them outright. When Apple finally booted Onavo from the App Store half a decade later, Facebook simply brought back the same code in a new wrapper — then called the Facebook Research app. This time, it was a bit more transparent about its data collection, as the Research app was actually paying for the data.

But Apple kicked out that app, too. So Facebook last year launched Study and Viewpoints to further its market research and data collection efforts. These apps are still live today.

Google

Google was also caught doing something similar by way of its Screenwise Meter app, which invited users 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app and participate in the panel. The app’s users allowed Google to collect their app and web usage in exchange for gift cards. But like Facebook, Google’s app used Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program to work — a violation of Apple policy that saw the app removed, again following media coverage. Screenwise Meter returned to the App Store last year and continues to track app usage, among other things, with panelists’ consent.

App Annie

App Annie, a firm that directly competes with Sensor Tower, has acquired mobile data companies and now operates its own set of apps to track app usage under those brands.

In 2014, App Annie bought Distimo, and as of 2016 has run Phone Guardian, a “secure Wi-Fi and VPN” app, under the Distimo brand.

The app discloses its relationship with App Annie in its App Store description, but remains vague about its true purpose:

“Trusted by more than 1 million users, App Annie is the leading global provider of mobile performance estimates. In short, we help app developers build better apps. We build our mobile performance estimates by learning how people use their devices. We do this with the help of this app.”

In 2015, App Annie acquired Mobidia. Since 2017, it has operated real-time data usage monitor My Data Manager under that brand, as well. The App Store description only offers the same vague disclosure, which means users aren’t likely aware of what they’re agreeing to.

Disclosure?

The problem with apps like App Annie’s and Sensor Tower’s is that they’re marketed as offering a particular function, when their real purpose for existing is entirely another.

The app companies’ defense is that they do disclose and require consent during onboarding. For example, Sensor Tower apps explicitly tell users what is collected and what is not:

App Annie’s app offers a similar disclosure, and takes the extra step of identifying the parent company by name:

App Annie also says its apps can continue to be used even if data sharing is turned off.

Despite these opt-ins, end users may still not understand that their VPN app is actually tied to a much larger data collection operation, however anonymized that data may be. After all, App Annie and Sensor Tower aren’t household names (unless you’re an app publisher or marketer.)

Apple and Google’s responsibility 

Apple and Google, let’s be fair, are also culpable here.

Of course, Google is more pro-data collection because of the nature of its own business as an advertising-powered company. (It even tracks users in the real world via the Google Maps app.)

Apple, meanwhile, markets itself as a privacy-focused company, so is deserving of increased scrutiny.

It seems unfathomable that, following the Onavo scandal, Apple wouldn’t have taken a closer look into the VPN app category to ensure its apps were compliant with its rules and transparent about the nature of their businesses. In particular, it seems Apple would have paid close attention to apps operated by companies in the app store intelligence business, like App Annie and its subsidiaries.

Apple is surely aware of how these companies acquire data — it’s common industry knowledge. Plus, App Annie’s acquisitions were publicly disclosed.

oh wait! pic.twitter.com/ktVc6E9t1f

— Will Strafach (@chronic) March 10, 2020

But Apple is conflicted. It wants to protect app usage and user data (and be known for protecting such data) by not providing any broader app store metrics of its own. However, it also knows that app publishers need such data to operate competitively on the App Store. So instead of being proactive about sweeping the App Store for data collection utilities, it remains reactive by pulling select apps when the media puts them on blast, as BuzzFeed’s report has since done. That allows Apple to maintain a veil of innocence.

But pulling user data directly covertly is only one way to operate. As Facebook and Google have since realized, it’s easier to run these sorts of operations on the App Store if the apps just say, basically, “this is a data collection app,” and/or offer payment for participation — as do many marketing research panels. This is a more transparent relationship from a consumer’s perspective too, as they know they’re agreeing to sell their data.

Meanwhile, Sensor Tower and App Annie competitor Apptopia says it tested then scrapped its own ad blocker app around six years ago, but claims it never collected data with it. It now favors getting its data directly from its app developer customers.

“We can confidently state that 100% of the proprietary data we collect is from shared App Analytics Accounts where app developers proactively and explicitly share their data with us, and give us the right to use it for modeling,” stated Apptopia co-founder and COO, Jonathan Kay. “We do not collect any data from mobile panels, third-party apps or even at the user/device level.”

This system (which is used by the others as well) isn’t necessarily a solution for end users concerned about data collection, as it further obscures the collection and sharing process. Generally, consumers don’t know which app developers are sharing this data, what data is being shared, or how it’s being utilized. App data of this nature isn’t on the user level (meaning it’s not personal data), but it’s still about reporting back to the developer things like installs, daily and monthly users, and revenue, among other things. (Fortunately, Apple allows users to disable the sharing of some diagnostic and usage data from within iOS Settings.)

Data collection done by app analytics firms is only one of many, many ways that apps leak data, however.

In fact, many apps collect personal data — including data that’s far more sensitive than anonymized app usage trends — by way of their included SDKs (software development kits). These tools allow apps to share data with numerous technology companies, including ad networks, data brokers and aggregators, both large and small. It’s not illegal, and mainstream users probably don’t know about this either.

Instead, user awareness seems to crop up through conspiracy theories, like “Facebook is listening through the microphone,” without realizing that Facebook collects so much data it doesn’t really need to do so. (Well, except when it does).

In the wake of BuzzFeed’s reporting, Sensor Tower says it’s “taking immediate steps to make Sensor Tower’s connection to our apps perfectly clear, and adding even more visibility around the data their users share with us.”

Google isn’t providing an official comment. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Sensor Tower’s full statement is below:

Our business model is predicated on high-level, macro app trends. As such, we do not collect or store any personally identifiable information (PII) about users on our servers or elsewhere. In fact, based on the way our apps are designed, such data is separated before we could possibly view or interact with it, and all we see are ad creatives being served to users. What we do store is extremely high level, aggregated advertising data that may demonstrate trends that we share with customers.

Our privacy policy follows best practices and makes our data use clear. We want to reiterate that our apps do not collect any PII, and therefore it cannot be shared with any other entity, Sensor Tower or otherwise. We’ve made this very clear in our privacy policy, which users actively opt into during the apps’ onboarding processes after being shown an unambiguous disclaimer detailing what data is shared with us. As a routine matter, and as our business evolves, we’ll always take a privacy-centric approach to new features to help ensure that any PII remains uncollected and is fully safeguarded.

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we’re taking immediate steps to make Sensor Tower’s connection to our apps perfectly clear, and adding even more visibility around the data their users share with us.

App Annie shared the below statement, referencing the root certificate installations mentioned in the BuzzFeed article. (On iOS devices, VPN certificates don’t get full root access, however):

App Annie does not use root certificates at any point in its data collection process.

App Annie discloses that when users opt into data collection (and data sharing is not mandatory to use our apps), data will be shared with App Annie for the purposes of creating market research. We only collect data after users expressly consent to this collection within our apps. We are very transparent, both on the app stores and in the apps themselves and clearly connect App Annie to our mobile apps.

 

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App stores saw record 204 billion app downloads in 2019, consumer spend of $120 billion

Posted by | android apps, App Annie, app stores, Apps, iOS apps, Mobile | No Comments

Consumers downloaded a record 204 billion apps in 2019, up 6% from 2018 and up 45% since 2016, and spent $120 billion on apps, subscriptions and other in-app spending in the past year. The average mobile user, meanwhile, is spending 3.7 hours per day using apps. This data and more comes from App Annie’s annual report, “State of Mobile,” which highlights the biggest app trends for the past year, and sets forecasts for the years ahead.

According to App Annie, the record growth in mobile downloads in 2019 can be attributed to the growth taking place in emerging markets like India, Brazil and Indonesia, which have seen downloads soar 190%, 40% and 70%, respectively, since 2016. Meanwhile, download growth in the U.S. has slowed to just 5% during that same time, while China saw 80% growth.

That doesn’t mean users in mature markets aren’t downloading apps, only that the growth in year-over-year download numbers is starting to level off. Still, these more mature markets continue to see large numbers of installs, with more than 12.3 billion downloads in the U.S. in 2019, 2.5 billion in Japan and 2 billion in South Korea.

The record numbers are notable also, given that App Annie’s analysis excludes re-installs and app updates.

App store consumer spending was on the rise in 2019, as well, with $120 billion spent on apps — a figure that’s up 2.1x from 2016. Games continue to account for the majority (72%) of that spending, but the shift toward subscriptions has played a role, too. Last year, subscriptions in non-gaming apps accounted for 28% of consumer spending, up from 18% in 2016.

Subscriptions are now the primary way many non-gaming apps generate revenue. For example, 97% of consumer spending in the top 250 U.S. iOS apps was driven by subscriptions, and 94% of the apps used subscriptions. On Google Play, 91% of the consumer spending was subscription-based, while 79% of the top 250 apps used subscriptions.

In particular, dating apps like Tinder and video apps like Netflix and Tencent Video topped 2019’s consumer spend charts, thanks to subscription revenue.

Mature markets, including the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the U.K. are helping to fuel consumer spending across both games and subscriptions, App Annie found. But China remains the largest market by far, accounting for 40% of global spend.

App Annie also forecast that the mobile industry will contribute $4.8 trillion to the global GDP by 2023.

The report additionally identified several mobile trends from 2019, including the mobile app connection to the Internet of Things and smart home devices (106 million downloads for the top 20 IoT apps last year); the huge mobile engagement by Gen Z (3.8 hours per app per month, among the top 25 non-game apps, on avgerage); and mobile ad spend’s growth ($190 billion in 2019 to $240 bilion in 2020).

Ad spending combined with consumer spending is expected to reach $380 billion worldwide by 2020, App Annie forecast.

Gaming was given a big breakout section, given its contribution to consumer spending.

Consumer spending in mobile gaming was 2.4x that of Mac/PC gaming, and 2.9x more than game consoles. In 2019, mobile gaming saw 25% more spending than all other gaming, and is on track to surpass $100 billion across all app stores by next year.

Casual gaming (led by Puzzle and Arcade) was the most downloaded type of games in 2019. Meanwhile, core games (e.g. Action, RPG, etc.) — which were only 18% of downloads — accounted for 55% of time spent in top games. PUBG Mobile was the No. 1 core game (action) on Android in 2019, in terms of time spent, while Anipop (puzzle) was the top casual game.

Core games also accounted for the majority (76%) of game spending, followed by casual (18%), then casino (6%).

In 2019, 17% more games surpassed $5 million in consumer spending versus 2017. And the number of games to top $100 million grew 59% compared to two years prior. Despite the sizable growth in revenues, App Annie also pointed to new models in mobile gaming, like Apple Arcade, which is giving other types of games a chance to thrive. Unfortunately, no third-party firm is able to track Arcade revenues, which will become a glaring blind spot for App Annie in the years ahead.

App Annie also examined other sizable segments of the mobile market for trends, including fintech, retail, streaming and social. Some of the more significant findings included: the fintech app user base growth topping that of traditional banking apps; shopping app downloads saw 20% year-over-year growth to reach 5.4 billion downloads; streaming growth that included 50% sessions in 2019 compared to 2017; and 50% of time spent on mobile was spent in social networking and communication apps.

TikTok was given special attention, given its rapid growth last year. Time spent in the short-form video app grew 210% year-over-year in 2019 globally. Even though eight out of every 10 minutes spent in TikTok were by users in China, the app’s usage skyrocketed in other markets as well, App Annie said.

Industries App Annie identified as being transformed by mobile in 2019 included ridesharing, fast food/food delivery, dating, sports streaming, plus health and fitness. The full report offers a few more details and mobile trends for each of these.

One bigger highlight was that digital-first shopping apps still had 3.2x more average monthly sessions per user compared with apps from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers (dubbed “bricks-and-clicks” apps in the report).

App Annie also compiled its own list of the top apps of 2019 by active users, downloads and revenue. Facebook apps still led by engagement, with WhatsApp, Facebook and Messenger in the top three spots and Instagram as No. 5. And they maintained similar positions by downloads, only swapping places with one another.

Consumer spending was a different story, with Tinder generating the most revenue in 2019, followed by entertainment and streaming apps like Netflix, Tencent Video, iQIYI, YouTube and others.

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The top apps and games of the 2010s

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In addition to its new report on the top apps of 2019, app store intelligence firm App Annie also closed out the year with its Decade in Review analysis, which looks at the most popular apps over the past 10 years. Not surprisingly, Facebook dominated the charts, claiming four of the most-downloaded apps of the decade with Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Subway Surfers, meanwhile, became the most-downloaded game of the decade, thanks to strong adoption in India.

To be clear, the analysis excludes third-party app stores in China, instead relying on iOS and Google Play data to come up with the list of top apps. But this still provides a way of examining worldwide app trends, despite that exception.

Making a good case for its monopoly status, Facebook didn’t just operate four of the most-downloaded (non-game) apps of the past 10 years — it runs the top four most-downloaded apps. In order, that’s Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Right on Facebook’s heels is Snapchat as the No. 5 most-downloaded app of the 2010s — a big reason why Facebook was ready to spend billions earlier in the decade to bring the app under its roof.

Communication and social media apps were also among the most popular over the past 10 years, claiming seven out of the 10 top spots of the decade’s most-downloaded apps thanks to Skype at No. 6 and Twitter at No. 10.

In terms of consumer spending, video streaming and music apps ruled the charts (outside of games), with top apps including Netflix (No. 1), Pandora Music (No. 3) and Tencent Video (No. 4) also in the top 5.

And though dating app Tinder was the most profitable app this year, Netflix was the No. 1 app by all-time consumer spend over the past decade.

The rest of the list included No. 4 LINE, followed by iQIYI, Spotify, YouTube, HBO NOW and Kwai.

On the gaming side, however, Subway Surfers by Kiloo was the somewhat surprising top game of the decade, in terms of downloads. It can attribute its No. 1 spot to the demand from Indian users, as the country accounted for more than 15% of Subway Surfers’ all-time downloads across iOS and Google Play combined.

No one publisher dominated the charts, as a wide range of major gaming companies were represented.

Following Subway Surfers, the most-downloaded games of the decade included Candy Crush Saga from Activision Blizzard, Temple Run 2 from Imangi, My Talking Tom from Outfit7, Clash of Clans from Supercell, Pou from Zakeh, Hill Climb Racing from Fingersoft, Minion Rus from Vivendi, Fruit Ninja from Halfbrick and 8 Ball Pool from Miniclip.

The top games by consumer spending were almost an entirely different list.

Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga were the only two games to appear on both the top games by downloads and consumer spend lists, App Annie found.

Instead, the top games by consumer spending were led by Supercell’s Clash of Clans, followed by Monster Strike by mixi, then Candy Crush.

The rest of the list was rounded out by Puzzle & Dragons by GungHo Online Entertainment, Fate/Grand Order by Sony, Honour of Kings by Tencent, Fantasy Westward Journey by NetEase, Pokémon GO by Niantic, Game of War – Fire Age by MZ and Clash Royale by Supercell.

Many of the decade’s most-downloaded and most profitable apps and games have also appeared on the top apps list at the end of every year, but some of the apps are growing in popularity while others are waning.

For example, the most profitable game of the decade, Clash of Clans, was ranked No. 8 as opposed No. 1 on 2019’s list of the most profitable games. HBO NOW had a big showing in the 2010s thanks to its hit series, “Game of Thrones,” but didn’t make this year’s list at all now that the show has wrapped. And though Facebook ruled the 2010s, there are now signs that consumers may be ready for something new as short-form video apps TikTok and Likee moved onto 2019’s most-downloaded app list, as No. 4 and No. 7, respectively.

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The top mobile apps and games of 2019

Posted by | Android, App Annie, app stores, Apple, Apps, Google Play, iOS, Mobile, mobile games | No Comments

Mobile consumers worldwide will have downloaded a record 120 billion apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play by the end of 2019, according to App Annie’s year-end report on app trends. This represents a 5% increase from 2018 — a notable achievement given that the number doesn’t include re-installations or app updates. Consumer spending on apps, meanwhile, approached $90 billion in 2019 across both app stores, up 15% from last year. The new report also examined the year’s biggest apps, including the most downloaded apps and games, as well as the most profitable.

Worldwide, the most downloaded non-game apps remained relatively consistent in 2019, with only one new entry on the list of the most downloaded apps — a short-form video creation and sharing app called Likee, which is benefiting from the overall popularity of short-form video. Elsewhere on the chart, TikTok came in at No. 4, beating out Facebook-owned Instagram, plus Snapchat, Netflix and Spotify.

However, Facebook still owned the top of the charts. Its Messenger app was the most downloaded non-game app of 2019, followed by Facebook’s main app, then WhatsApp.

The top 10 games chart showed more volatility in 2019, as seven out of the top 10 games were new to the chart this year. This included the hyper-casual title Fun Race 3D, as well as the anticipated Call of Duty: Mobile, representing the battle royale genre.

While mobile gaming drives the majority of consumer spending on apps, the subscription economy in 2019 played a big role in increasing app revenues, as well.

Specifically, the non-game apps driving revenue growth this year included those in the Photo & Video and Entertainment categories — a trend App Annie predicts will continue in 2020, as new video services, like Disney+, continue to rise. 2020 will additionally see the launch of several other video services, including HBO Max, NBCU’s Peacock and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi, which could aid in those increases.

Already, many of the top apps are subscription-based, App Annie had previously noted. During the 12 months ending in September 2019, more than 95% of the top 100 non-gaming apps by consumer spend were offering subscriptions through in-app purchases. Publishers’ growing use of subscription services will continue in 2020 to drive consumer spending even higher, the firm says.

This year, Tinder switched places with Netflix for the No. 1 spot on this chart — last year, it was the other way around. HBO NOW, which saw a surge in spending thanks to “Game of Thrones,” also fell out of the top chart this year, allowing LINE Manga to take its spot. Tencent Video and iQIYI have the same positions as 2018, while YouTube grew from No. 7 to No. 5, and Pandora slipped from No. 5 to No. 6 compared with last year.

App Annie also took a look at a new category of apps that it’s calling the “breakout” apps of the year. These are those that saw the largest absolute growth in downloads or consumer spending between 2018 and 2019. On this list, the No. 7 most-downloaded app of the year, Likee, from YY Inc., becomes the No. 1 “breakout” app of the year, followed by YY Inc.’s Noizz and Helo. Meanwhile, Indian users drove the adoption of social gaming app Hago at No. 4, which is also popular with Gen Z users in Indonesia.

Breakout apps by consumer spending included YouTube, iQIYI, DAZN and Tencent Video — similar to the top 10 list.

On the gaming side, hyper-casual titles were successful, claiming seven out of 10 slots on the breakout games of the year chart. Hot releases like Mario Kart Tour and Call of Duty: Mobile also appeared. But by consumer spending, core games like No. 1 Game for Peace and No. 2 PUBG Mobile, both published by Tencent, made up the top spots.

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App revenue climbs 23% year-over-year to $21.9B in Q3

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Global app revenue continues to climb, thanks to the growth in mobile gaming and the subscription economy. In the third quarter of 2019, consumer revenue grew 22.9% year-over-year from $17.9 billion to reach an estimated $21.9 billion across both the App Store and Google Play worldwide, according to new data from Sensor Tower.

Notably, the App Store continues to account for the large majority of this revenue, the report found, making up 65% of total spending compared with just 35% on Google Play.

App Store users spent $14.2 billion, up 22.3% from the $11.6 billion they spent in Q3 2018. Google Play generated $7.7 billion in revenue, up 24% from the $6.2 billion spent in the year-ago quarter.

q3 2019 app revenue worldwide

Sensor Tower’s revenue estimates are a bit lower than those provided by App Annie’s recent report, which said the quarter saw $23 billion in consumer spending, not ~$22 billion.

App Annie also estimated nearly 31 billion downloads in Q3, while Sensor Tower claimed 29.6 billion.

In both cases, Google Play is still said to be the main source for downloads, with nearly three times more first-time installs than the App Store. In Q3, the total number of downloads was up 9.7% year-over-year to 29.6 billion, said Sensor Tower, with Google Play accounting for 21.6 billion of those.

Despite the overall growth, one big app market — China — saw a slight decline, Sensor Tower found. Its installs dropped 6% year-over-year to 2.2 billion in the quarter. But its revenue grew by 26.9% to $4.1 billion, up from $3.2 billion the year prior. This could be attributed to the nine-month game license freeze in China which, though now lifted, had slowed momentum.

Sensor Tower’s charts don’t include third-party app stores, so it’s not a full picture of the Chinese app market, it’s worth noting.

q3 2019 top apps worldwide

The top money-making (non-game) app in the quarter was again Tinder, which generated $233 million in consumer spending, up 7% over the prior quarter. Netflix was No. 2 and YouTube clocked in at No. 3, at $164 million in Q3.

App Annie has a slightly different ranking. It has Tinder and Netflix leading the top-grossing charts, but puts IQIYI ahead of YouTube. This could be because App Annie has a bigger window into the Chinese app market.

In terms of downloads, TikTok is continuing to disrupt Facebook-owned apps’ dominance over the top of the charts. In Sensor Tower’s rankings, WhatsApp was No. 1 and Messenger was No. 3, but Facebook and Instagram dropped to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. And TikTok reached No. 2.

q3 2019 app downloads worldwide

This isn’t the first time TikTok has passed Facebook, Sensor Tower said — it did so back in Q4 2018 and in Q1 2019, before dropping to No. 4 again last quarter. But with 177 million downloads in Q3, it’s inching its way up to the top.

App Annie, on the other hand, sees TikTok having just a bit more of climb, sticking it at No. 3 in the quarter, behind Messenger and Facebook. It also called out some Q3 break-out hits, like the return of FaceApp’s popularity (No. 9 in downloads) and the growing subscription revenue of Google One (No. 7 in non-game revenue). Sensor Tower put FaceApp at No. 6 instead, but agreed on Google One.

Mobile gaming continues to generate most of the cash, and did so again in Q3 with $16.3 billion in mobile game gross revenue — or 74% of the total in-app spending, the new report said. The App Store accounted for $9.8 billion of that figure, with Google Play users spending $6.5 billion.

Game downloads across both Google Play and the App Store increased by 17.6% in Q3 from 9.5 billion last year to 11.1 billion.

q3 2019 game revenue worldwide

The top three games in the quarter by downloads were Fun Race 3D (123 million downloads), PUBG Mobile (94 million) and newcomer Mario Kart Tour, which hit 86 million downloads despite only launching in late September.

q3 2019 top games worldwide

PUBG Mobile was the top-grossing game with $496 million in revenue, up 652% over last year. The No. 2 title, Tencent’s Honor of Kings, and No. 3 Aniplex’s Fate/Grand Order generated $377 million and $354 million, respectively.

q3 2019 game downloads worldwide

Image credits: Sensor Tower

Correction: App Annie estimated nearly 31 billion downloads in Q3, not 23 billion as first written. We corrected this. Apologies for the error. 

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App Annie acquires analytics firm Libring, bringing adtech-related insights to its platform

Posted by | ad tech, Advertising Tech, analytics, App Annie, Apps, data, Fundings & Exits, insights, libring, M&A, Mobile, mobile apps, platforms | No Comments

App Annie, a go-to source for mobile app market data and analytics, is expanding its platform with the acquisition of mobile analytics provider Libring. The deal will allow App Annie to present its mobile app market data side by side with advertising analytics data in order to paint a more complete picture of an app’s performance and revenue.

Already, App Annie customers leverage its platform to track key metrics related to their app’s growth and usage, like downloads, active users, retention numbers, demographics, rankings, reviews, competitive analysis and more. But the company said it heard from publishers and brands how it’s still difficult to analyze their user acquisition efforts, including their ad spend and related costs.

Screen Shot 2019 09 26 at 12.42.07 PMWith the addition of Libring, App Annie is integrating adtech insights into its platform.

This includes the ability to combine the ad spend and monetization insights from more than 325 data sources, including Supply Side Platforms (SSPs), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), app stores and analytics platforms.

This data is then presented in a single dashboard so it’s easier to understand critical metrics — like the customer acquisition cost, the lifetime value, the return on ad spend and the return on investment.

It’s ideal for larger organizations that have outgrown the spreadsheet, as it’s been sort of the App Annie of revenue aggregation, so to speak.

“The most successful companies find a way to capitalize on mobile, yet they have been struggling to maximize its value to their business,” explained App Annie CEO Ted Krantz, in a statement about the acquisition. “Today, this requires custom work to stitch together multiple point solutions, spreadsheets, business intelligence teams, agencies and consultants. We are committed to solving this by applying data science and machine learning to automate these composite metrics for brands and publishers,” he said.

The deal comes at a time when mobile ad spend is continuing to grow rapidly — it’s expected to double to $375 billion globally by 2022, the company noted. It’s now a massive part of the overall app industry, at triple the amount of consumer spending on the app stores.

As a result of the deal, Libring’s 30-plus employees are joining App Annie.

In the near-term, Libring’s current customers will continue to use its product as they do today.

But App Annie tells us there’s only some overlap between the two companies’ respective customer bases. For now, App Annie will work with its customers who want to purchase the new analytics service and find out what sort of enhancements they are looking for in an analytics solution. Libring’s customers can also purchase App Annie’s analytics, if they choose.

Later, App Annie will migrate the Libring backend to the same infrastructure provider the rest of App Annie uses, and will then integrate the front-end so customers can log in and visualize the new analytics and other market data together. More information about how this will all work will be shared when those tools are closer to being available, which is still several months from now.

Going forward, App Annie says its data science team will also offer predictive and prescriptive insights based on the new data.

According to Libring’s website, its customers included SEGA, Slickdeals, Reddit, Jam City, Wooga, EA, Zynga, Next Games, Meet Me, GameInsight, Deviant Art, Webedia, Ubisoft, theChive, saambaa, badoo, textnow and others.

App Annie declined to disclose the deal terms.

Related to the changes and expansion, App Annie also today introduced a new brand that features a gem logomark. The gem is meant to be a tribute to mobile gaming and the idea of “leveling up” while also a reflection of the value of actionable data, the company says.

AppAnnie Rebrand Logo Lockups DARKBLUE 1

The acquisition comes on the heels of several notable milestones for App Annie, including the launch of a product development testing ground, App Annie Labs; plus the addition of mobile web analytics in March — the same time when App Annie passed $100 million in annual recurring revenue.

The company is soliciting feedback about its plans for Libring and will post updates about the project on App Annie Labs, it says.

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‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ reaches 400K downloads, $300K in consumer spend in UK and US

Posted by | App Annie, Apps, games, Gaming, harry potter, harry potter wizards unite, Mobile, niantic, sensor tower | No Comments

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the highly anticipated new mobile game from Pokémon GO makers Niantic and Warner Brothers’ games division, is off to a good start, but it’s not breaking Pokémon GO records. According to preliminary estimates from Sensor Tower, the new game has been installed some 400,000 times in its first 24 hours in its launch markets of the U.S. and U.K. — where the game arrived ahead of schedule on Thursday. Gross player spending in these markets hit around $300,000 across both iOS and Android during this time.

This is not the full picture, however.

The game was also available in Australia and New Zealand during a pre-launch beta trial of sorts, and is only now rolling out to worldwide users on a country-by-country basis. During its beta test period, Sensor Tower estimates the game grossed around $80,000.

But in the same number of days, Pokémon GO grossed $1.6 million in those two markets.

Following its U.S. launch, it took Harry Potter: Wizards Unite around 15 hours to reach the No.1 position on the iOS App Store. This ascension is also going a bit slower than Pokémon GO did when it arrived. That game was an immediate hit, debuting at No. 1 on its launch day of July 6, 2016. It was then installed 7.5 million times in the U.S. during its first 24 hours. And it didn’t reach the U.K. until seven days later.

In its first 24 hours, Pokémon GO became the No. 1 app by revenue in the U.S., as well. The new Harry Potter title is ranked No. 102 overall for iPhone revenue and No. 62 among top grossing games, Sensor Tower says. It’s also No. 48 for U.K. revenue. (It’s not yet ranked on Google Play.)

App Annie hasn’t yet put out numbers related to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’s revenue, but the company tells us it hit No. 1 in the U.S. for downloads as of 12 AM on June 21, 2019. And for consumer spending, App Annie says the game broke into the top 100 grossing games by hitting No. 63 as of 7:00 AM June 21 on iPhone in the U.S.

The new game’s lesser demand compared with Pokémon GO could be attributed to a number of factors. Pokémon GO was hugely anticipated, had a massive fan base ready to download and was one of the first compelling use cases of AR in gaming.

Harry Potter’s fan base is active as well, but they’ve also had other games to play before now.

For example, Jam City has a Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game that’s been getting a huge boost since yesterday’s news of the new Niantic title. That points to a case of mistaken identity or perhaps clever App Store SEO… or both.

It’s also worth noting the App Store itself has changed in the years since Pokémon GO’s launch.

In September 2017, Apple introduced its brand-new App Store that took the emphasis off its Top Charts as a means of discovery, and instead features apps in editorial “stories” on its Today tab. Within the dedicated apps and games section, the revamped App Store points users to editorial collections, with Top Charts only found upon scrolling down the page quite a bit.

We’ve heard from some developers that these changes reduced their downloads, as getting into the Top Charts doesn’t drive numbers like it used to. They said getting into the Today tab’s feature editorial doesn’t send as many installs, either. But this is all anecdotal — and of course, Apple doesn’t talk about numbers like this. Further investigation is needed.

In any event, the two app store intelligence firms — App Annie and Sensor Tower — both predict big numbers for the new Harry Potter title over time.

Sensor Tower estimates the game will pull in $400 million to $500 million in revenue in its first year. However, the firm notes that Harry Potter isn’t as popular in Asia — a market that delivers Pokémon GO over 40% of its revenue.

App Annie, meanwhile, predicts the game will hit $100 million in consumer spend in its first 30 days. (Pokémon GO hit this milestone in two weeks.)

“Pokémon GO shattered mobile gaming records, clearing $100 million in its first two weeks and becoming the fastest game to reach $1 billion in consumer spend,” noted App Annie. “While we don’t expect it to surpass Pokémon GO’s launch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is set to clear $100 million in its first 30 days — which is no small feat.”

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Mobile games now account for 33% of installs, 10% of time and 74% of consumer spend

Posted by | Android, android apps, App Annie, app stores, app-store, Apps, games, Gaming, Google Play, iOS, iOS apps, Mobile | No Comments

Mobile gaming continues to hold its own, accounting for 10% of the time users spend in apps — a percentage that has remained steady over the years, even though our time in apps overall has grown by 50% over the past two years. In addition, games are continuing to grow their share of consumer spend, notes App Annie in a new research report out this week, timed with E3.

Thanks to growth in hyper-casual and cross-platform gaming in particular, mobile games are on track to reach 60% market share in consumer spend in 2019.

The new report looks at how much time users spend gaming versus using other apps, monetization and regional highlights within the gaming market, among other things.

Despite accounting for a sizable portion of users’ time, games don’t lead the other categories, App Annie says.

Instead, social and communications apps account for half (50%) of the time users spent globally in apps in 2018, followed by video players and editors at 15%, then games at 10%.

In the U.S., users generally have eight games installed per device; globally, we play an average of two to five games per month.

The number of total hours spent on games continues to grow roughly 10% year-over-year, as well, thanks to existing gamers increasing their time in games and from a broadening user base, including a large number of mobile app newcomers from emerging markets.

This has also contributed to a widening age range for gamers.

Today, the majority of time spent in gaming is by those aged 25 and older. In many cases, these players may not even classify themselves as “gamers,” App Annie noted.

While games may not lead the categories in terms of time spent, they do account for a large number of mobile downloads and the majority of consumer spending on mobile.

One-third of all worldwide downloads are games across iOS, Google Play and third-party app stores.

Last year, 1.6+ million games launched on Google Play and 1.1+ million arrived on iOS.

On Android, 74 cents of every dollar is spent on games, with 95% of those purchases coming as in-app purchases, not paid downloads. App Annie didn’t have figures for iOS.

Google Play is known for having more downloads than iOS, but continues to trail on consumer spend. In 2018, Google Play grabbed a 72% share of worldwide downloads, compared with 28% on iOS. Meanwhile, Google Play only saw 36% of consumer spend versus 64% on iOS.

One particular type of gaming jumped out in the new report: racing games.

Consumer spend in this subcategory of gaming grew 7.9 times as fast as the overall mobile gaming market. Adventure games did well, too, growing roughly five times the rate of games in general. Music games and board games were also popular.

Of course, gaming expands beyond mobile. But it’s surprising to see how large a share of the broader market can be attributed to mobile gaming.

According to App Annie, mobile gaming is larger than all other channels, including home game consoles, handheld consoles and computers (Mac and PC). It’s also 20% larger than all these other categories combined — a shift from only a few years ago, attributed to the growth in the mobile consumer base, which allows mobile gaming to reach more people.

Cross-platform gaming is a key gaming trend today, thanks to titles like PUBG and Fortnite in particular, which were among the most downloaded games across several markets last year.

Meanwhile, hyper-casual games are appealing to those who don’t think of themselves as gamers, which has helped to broaden the market further.

App Annie is predicting the next big surge will come from AR gaming, with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite expected to bring Pokémon Go-like frenzy back to AR, bringing the new title $100 million in its first 30 days. The game is currently in beta testing in select markets, with plans for a 2019 release.

In terms of regions, China’s impact on gaming tends to be outsized, but its growth last year was limited due to the game license regulations. This forced publishers to look outside the country for growth — particularly in markets like North America and Japan, App Annie said.

Meanwhile, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia lead the emerging markets with regard to game
downloads, but established markets of the U.S. and China remain strong players in terms of sheer numbers.

With the continued steady growth in consumer spend and the stable time spent in games, App Annie states the monetization potential for games is growing. In 2018, there were 1,900 games that made more than $5 million, up from 1,200 in 2016. In addition, consumer spend in many key markets is still growing too — like the 105% growth in two years in China, for example, and the 45% growth in the U.S.

The full report delves into other regions as well as game publishers’ user acquisition strategies. It’s available for download here.

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Consolidation is coming to gaming, and Jam City raises $145 million to capitalize on it

Posted by | App Annie, Bank of America, Chris DeWolfe, computing, Disney, Electronic Arts, Europe, Facebook, Gaming, helsinki, jam city, King, Los Angeles, mobile game, Pixar, Recent Funding, silicon valley bank, Software, Startups, TC, toronto, United States, Zynga | No Comments

A slew of banks are coming together to back a new roll-up strategy for the Los Angeles-based mobile gaming studio Jam City and giving the company $145 million in new funding to carry that out.

There’s no word on whether the new money is in equity or debt, but what is certain is that JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and syndicate partners, including Silicon Valley Bank, SunTrust Bank and CIT Bank, are all involved in the deal.

“In a global mobile games market that is consolidating, Jam City could not be more proud to be working with JPMorgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Silicon Valley Bank, SunTrust Bank and CIT Group to strategically support the financing of our acquisition and growth plans,” said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of Jam City. “This $145 million in new financing empowers Jam City to further our position as a global industry consolidator. As we grow our global business, we are honored to be working alongside such prestigious advisers who share Jam City’s mission of delivering joy to people everywhere through unique and deeply engaging mobile games.”

The new money comes after a few years of speculation on whether Jam City would be the next big Los Angeles-based startup company to file for an initial public offering. It also follows a new agreement with Disney to develop mobile games based on intellectual property coming from all corners of the mouse house — a sweet cache of intellectual property ranging from Pixar, to Marvel, to traditional Disney characters.

Jam City is coming off a strong year of company growth. The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game, which launched last year, became the company’s fastest title to hit $100 million in revenue.

Add that to the company’s expansion into new markets with strategic acquisitions to fuel development and growth in Toronto and Bogota and it’s clear that the company is looking to make more moves in 2019.

Jam City already holds intellectual property for a new game built on Disney’s “Frozen 2,” the company’s newly acquired Fox Studio assets like “Family Guy” and the Harry Potter property. Add that to its own Cookie Jam and Panda Pop properties and it seems like the company is ready to make moves.

Meanwhile, games are quickly becoming the go-to revenue driver for the entertainment industry. According to data collected by Newzoo, mobile games revenue reached a record $63.2 billion worldwide in 2018, representing roughly 47 percent of the total revenue for the gaming industry in the year. That number could reach $81.3 billion by 2020, the Newzoo data suggests.

Roughly half of the U.S. plays mobile games, and they’re spending significant dollars on those games in app stores. App Annie suggests that roughly 75 percent of the money spent in app stores over the past decade has been spent on mobile games. And consumers are expected to spend roughly $129 billion in app stores over the next year. The data and analytics firm suggests that mobile gaming will capture some 60 percent of the overall gaming market in 2019, as well.

All of that bodes well for the industry as a whole, and points to why Jam City is looking to consolidate. And the company isn’t the only mobile games studio making moves.

The publicly traded games studio Zynga, which rose to fame initially on the back of Facebook’s gaming platform, recently expanded its European footprint with the late-December acquisition of the Helsinki-based gaming studio Small Giant Games.

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App stores to pass $122B in 2019, with gaming and subscriptions driving growth

Posted by | App Annie, app stores, app-store, Apps, games, Gaming, Media, Mobile, mobile video | No Comments

Mobile intelligence and data firm App Annie is today releasing its 2019 predictions for the worldwide app economy, including its forecast around consumer spending, gaming, the subscription market and other highlights. Most notably, it expects the worldwide gross consumer spend in apps — meaning before the app stores take their own cut — to surpass $122 billion next year, which is double the size of the global box office market, for comparison’s sake.

According to the new forecast, the worldwide app store consumer spend will grow five times as fast as the overall global economy next year.

But the forecast also notes that “consumer spend” — which refers to the money consumers spend on apps and through in-app purchases — is only one metric to track the apps stores’ growth and revenue potential.

Mobile spending is also expected to continue growing for both in-app advertising and commerce — that is, the transactions that take place outside of the app stores in apps like Uber, Amazon and Starbucks, for example.

Specifically, mobile will account for 62 percent of global digital ad spend in 2019, representing $155 billion, up from 50 percent in 2017. In addition, 60 percent more mobile apps will monetize through in-app ads in 2019.

Mobile gaming to reach 60% market share

As in previous years, mobile gaming is contributing to the bulk of the growth in consumer spending, the report says.

Mobile gaming, which continues to be the fastest growing form of gaming, matured further this year with apps like Fortnite and PUBG, says App Annie . These games “drove multiplayer game mechanics that put them on par with real-time strategy and shooter games on PC/Mac and Consoles in a way that hadn’t been done before,” the firm said.

They also helped push forward a trend toward cross-platform gaming, and App Annie expects that to continue in 2019 with more games becoming less siloed.

However, the gaming market won’t just be growing because of experiences like PUBG and Fortnite. “Hyper-casual” games — that is, those with very simple gameplay — will also drive download growth in 2019.

Over the course of the next year, consumer spend in mobile gaming will reach 60 percent market share across all major platforms, including PC, Mac, console, handheld and mobile.

China will remain a major contributor to overall app store consumer spend, including mobile gaming, but there may be a slight deceleration of their impact next year due to the game licensing freeze. In August, Bloomberg reported China’s regulators froze approval of game licenses amid a government shake-up. The freeze impacted the entire sector, from large players like internet giant Tencent to smaller developers.

If the freeze continues in 2019, App Annie believes Chinese firms will push toward international expansion and M&A activity could result.

App Annie is also predicting one breakout gaming hit for 2019: Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which it believes will exceed $100 million in consumer spend in its first 30 days. Niantic’s Pokémon GO, by comparison, cleared $100 million in its first two weeks and became the fastest game to reach $1 billion in consumer spend.

But App Annie isn’t going so far as to predict Harry Potter will do better than Pokémon GO, which tapped into consumer nostalgia and was a first-to-market mainstream AR gaming title.

Mobile video streaming

Another significant trend ahead for the new year is the growth in video streaming apps, fueled by in-app subscriptions.

Today, the average person consumers more than 7.5 hours of media per day, including watching, listening, reading or posting. Next year, 10 minutes of every hour will be spent consuming media across TV and internet will come from streaming video on mobile, the forecast says.

The total time in video streaming apps will increase 110 percent from 2016 to 2019, with consumer spend in entertainment apps up by 520 percent over that same period. Most of those revenues will come from the growth in in-app subscriptions.

Much of the time consumers spend streaming will come from short-form video apps like YouTube, TikTok and social apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

YouTube alone accounts for 4 out of every 5 minutes spent in the top 10 video streaming apps, today. But 2019 will see many changes, including the launch of Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, for example.

App Annie’s full report, which details ad creatives and strategies as well, is available on its blog.

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