Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 6.39.40 PM

App Store vs Google Play: Revenue & Downloads

With the close of Q2, we’re looking back to the beginning of the year to see how revenue and downloads changed thus far for giants of the mobile industry. The numbers are in, and companies like Google and Apple reported positive net revenue, in addition to overall growth of the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Google announced back in May of 2017 that the company saw 82 billion downloads from the Google Play Store in 2016, causing surge of revenue for the tech company and app developers.

Apple echoed this number by stating at WWDC 2017, the App Store attracts over 500 million weekly visitors and has achieved 180 billion app downloads. On top of this information, it has been reported that across both stores, there as $15 billion in downloads at the end of Q1 2017. Across iOS and Android, downloads also grew 15 percent year-over-year.

As the number of downloads and revenue continues to grow, it begs the question what is in store for the app market?

Which Company Had More Growth?

Despite Google being labeled as the clear winner of global app downloads, Apple is closing the gap in revenue growth. The App store saw 45 percent increase in consumer spending compared to Google’s 40 percent year-over-year growth. Apple now leads in consumer spending by 100 percent, up from their 90 percent lead in Q1 2016.

Regardless of Apple being the leader in consumer spending, the company still has catching up to do on the global scale. Globally, most of the phones that shipped in Q4 2016 were Android. This is not surprising considering that Android software is used across multiple devices and the price of Android phones is relatively lower than that of an iPhone.

Along with the large number of Android phones shipped last year, third-party Android app stores are also on the rise, especially in China, one of the leaders in the app market. Some of the marketplaces include Tencent, Baidu, and more.

Other than China, Google Play is exceptionally recognized in India, as indicated by several of Google’s presentations at I/O 2017. Google has essentially cornered the market in India, making it a key factor in the tech company’s year-over-year growth of 40 percent.

Even though Apple has catching up to do in the global app market, the numbers both companies have reported for Q1 2017 are astounding. This immediate progression only meant that the demand of mobile apps will continue to increase.

What Does This Growth Mean for the App Market?

Just based off the numbers in revenue that the App Store and Google Play Store have already witnessed in Q1 2017 alone, more and more apps are likely to take advantage of a key revenue-generator: in-app purchases.

The apps that are more likely to capitalize on the influx of readily available in-app purchases are games. Gaming apps have already seen a trend of more users purchasing in-app content, especially in territories like Japan and China.

Games like Pokémon GO helped put AR apps on the map and proved that they could do well in the market. Pokémon GO managed to generate $800 million with the first three months of its release, and is a key reason why AR apps are on the rise.

Apple has realized just how big games are and will soon separate games from other apps once iOS 11 launches this fall. Despite the update not being released until Q3 or Q4 of 2017, it still shows that Apple is setting up games to continue being a huge revenue generator.

Looking at the Future

As Q3 2017 gets started, Apple and Google’s success will only continue growing. The two tech companies are setting themselves up for major success this year and have realized that the way users find apps and games is changing.

The two tech companies are both making a bigger shift toward editorialized content, which will shape the way that users find new apps and games. This drastic change completely breaks the mold of how users have been able to find apps and games previously, and will be a key component of how the app market develops this year.

Apple has taken their understanding of the app market one step further by making in-app purchases readily available on an app’s product page in iOS 11. This decision is a key component of how the app market will only continue to change and grow, because it is creating less steps for users to readily access content.

The changes set to occur in later half 2017 will greatly affect every part of the app market. It is essential to stay up-to-date on how the app market is changing to ensure your app can grow with this new landscape.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 10.50.45 AM

The Future of Games on the App Store

Developers are currently scrambling to make sure their metadata will be completely ready for iOS 11’s launch this coming fall. Apple announced big changes to the App Store such as the revamped navigation bar, which now features three new tabs, Today, Games and Apps.

This redesign means that Apple has finally separated games from other apps, essentially creating two App Stores with their own separate top charts and featured content.

Making games its own tab concretely separates games from other apps, and allows for all games genres to be better categorized on the App Store. The games tab will have its own top charts, but will also have separate top categories section.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.44.38 AM While many developers are eagerly awaiting the launch of iOS 11, some are frantically adjusting their app’s metadata in case there are major changes to how apps index. But why are game developers worrying about games having its own tab? Will the upcoming changes affect everyone’s carefully crafted metadata and current ASO strategy?

Why Are Games a Big Deal?

Games having its own store is a complete game changer for everyone. It separates games from other apps and means there is now a dedicated space in the App Store that will focus solely on games.

This separation also means that the top charts inside the Games tab will focus only on gaming, creating even more competition with each app category.

While many developers are focused on how to get their apps on the top charts, others are looking forward to Apple’s promises of editorialized content that will only focus on games. This content will aid in discoverability in highlight the day’s biggest game releases, rotating game promotions and gameplay videos, along with featuring a revolving list of new handpicked games.

On top of the curated lists, Apple will show users available content for in-app purchases. This extends to new levels, characters or gameplay updates. Having in-app purchases readily available from the app’s product page expedites the decision-making process for many users and encourages them to download faster.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.14.21 AM

Giving games its own store will help users discover more games and definitely distinguish non-games within the App Store. All of this is great news, but does the separation of games and other apps affect current ASO best practices?

Games and ASO

Moving games to its own store simply means more competition in the App Store. All available games will be in one place, meaning that developers need to make sure their metadata is clear and relevant to help their game stand out over competitors.

Despite many developers already having a tried and true ASO strategy, Apple did announce changes to the metadata. These changes include:

  • Reducing app name character limit to 30 characters
  • New Subtitle field capped at 30 characters
  • New Promotional Text field capped at 170 characters
  • Displaying up to three Preview Videos

Thankfully, ASO best practices is fully equipped to help developers prepare for these changes. Keep in mind, the changes to metadata are crucial to building relevancy, but it is still unknown whether the Subtitle and Promotional Text will affect how apps index.

1. Subtitle

The Subtitle text field can be maximum of 30 characters and will be displayed underneath the app name on the product page. Despite having such little space, game developers should treat this field as a brief summary of their game that encourages users to download. This field, just like the description, can only be updated when submitting a new build of the game.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.49.47 AM 2. Promotional Text

While it’s suggested to treat the Subtitle as a brief summary of the game, the Promotional Text should be used to highlight any recent updates, features, promotions and more. This field, unlike the description or Subtitle, can be updated at any time without submitting a new build.

3. Preview Videos

While the addition of the Subtitle and Promotional Text are incredibly important for helping games become more visible, the addition of more Preview Videos means one thing: more opportunities to convert users.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.52.53 AM Games can now show off multiple Preview Videos that feature gameplay, characters and more. Ultimately, game developers will be able to engage with users while highlighting core features of their game.

Key Takeaways

Apple’s decision to separate Games is a huge turning point in the future of the App Store. iOS 11 will clearly distinguish games and apps as two separate entities on the App Store.

Developers need to realize that the separation of games and apps does help more games become easily discoverable, but it also clearly displays the high levels of competition among game categories.

It is imperative that developers take the preemptive strike and focus their ASO strategy toward reducing their app name, creating unique and relevant Subtitle and Promotional Text, and making sure each Preview Video demonstrates the game’s core features before the App Store’s update.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 3.58.01 PM

Android Excellence: Google’s Answer to Editorialized Content

Apple recently announced a complete redesign of its App Store, shifting their focus toward editorialized content such as interviews, tips and tricks and stories on apps and developers. While the App Store’s redesign won’t debut until the launch of iOS 11, Google has already announced its own plans to expand their editorial content with a new program called Android Excellence.

Similar to Apple’s new Today tab, Android Excellence will highlight the highest-quality apps and games on a rotating basis. The apps and games will be handpicked by Google Play’s editors based on their ability to “deliver incredible user experiences on Android,” apps and games that use Google’s best practices, “and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.” These apps and games can be looked at as examples of the great apps that Google encourages developers to continue creating through their platform.

Other than encouraging the future of the Google Play Store, Android Excellence will also feature content that is broken down into two groups: apps and games. These groups will each feature a revamped Editors’ Choice section full of app and game reviews curated specifically by the editorial team. Google has already announced their lists for this quarter, and the apps and games can be viewed here: Android Excellence.

While the timing of Google’s announcement to encourage more editorialized content might be suspect, the two tech companies vary in how they will deliver this content.

Apple vs Google

The biggest differences between Android Excellence and Apple’s Today tab is that Android Excellence will only be updated quarterly, which means that it will not feature new content daily like the Today tab.

Google’s decision to update quarterly might turn away users from viewing daily, but for the app developers that get featured, it could be significant to attracting users, in turn improving their conversion.

While Google is trying to introduce more editorialized content, they are not quite matching the level that Apple will achieve. Apple will feature daily stories, which will present anything from world premieres to inside looks of newly launched apps. Google’s editorialized content, however, is merely a brief bulleted list of why their editors chose the app or game. This doesn’t highlight the developers or give much context behind their creative choices.

Despite Google beating Apple to the punch and releasing a revamped Editor’s Choice, Apple’s Today tab will certainly help more apps with its rotating content and in-depth editorialized content.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 1.32.18 PM

How to Choose an App Category

Coming up with the next great app can be exciting, but when looking at the current mobile app market, entrepreneurs realize that the nearly 3 million apps completely saturate every app category.

It’s tough to get noticed in any category, but how do the top apps do it? They start by monitoring the current app market, researching user trends, defining user behaviors, creating a targeted demographic user base and carefully distinguishing which category fits their app best.

By monitoring competitors and current app market trends, developers can make crucial changes using ASO best practices before wasting their time and resources launching an app prematurely.

Estimating the Market Size

Estimating the current app market size can save many developers from wasting time, money and resources. With so much congestion in the app stores, it’s important to know which users to target.

It is crucial that developers always keep in mind who they are making their app for. Certainly, part of estimating the app market is considering the volume of the target audience. The problem lies in developers paying too much attention to their competitors instead of focusing on who they are targeting.

When creating an app, developers should be constantly monitoring their audience’s size to ensure it’s not shrinking. Understanding who to target is important to determining which app category to target. An app will only become more discoverable and expand their brand’s name if they understand the current market.

How to Choose an App Category

Any user browsing through the App Store can easily find the app they want in one of the 26 app categories. For some categories like games, however, there are sub-categories that users can search through, meaning there are competitors in every category.

Developers need to determine what category will serve as an app’s primary and if it applies for any other categories. First, developers need to ask the simple question: what does the app do? Depending on the core features, it is easy to estimate which category an app will do best in.

Monitoring Top Competitors

To further gage how well an app will do, developers can monitor what apps are trending on the Top Charts. While the Top Charts are a quick, easy way of monitoring what’s trending, developers can gain beneficial insights on what their competition is doing well on.

Keep in mind that the Top Charts are basically a black hole that are often determined by paid apps ranking above subscriptions. The Top Charts are not incredibly realistic to use as a comparison point since most developers don’t have the capital to get there.

The Top Charts, while they can help gage what app is doing well, still proves how stiff the competition is. It may be more difficult for an app to rank in a popular category like “photo & video” as opposed to “beauty.” Depending on an app’s core features, it might be best to choose a more realistic category and work on getting ranked.

Monitoring the competition is also good because it gives developers an edge to see where their competitors are lacking and incorporate what works well. This gives developers the chance to adjust specific areas of their app’s metadata.

Examining Current Ranking

If an app is live on one or both app stores, it’s good to look at how it currently ranks in its primary and secondary category. Sometimes, developers are not doing well in their rankings because their app name does not target many relevant keywords or their downloads and positive ratings are low.

Understanding top competitors is also a key step of any ASO strategy to track who is moving up and down in the rankings. Developers looking to monitor their movements with categories can use DATACUBE for a better understanding of trends to make appropriate changes to their app’s metadata to attract more users.

Key Takeaways

It’s good to make a routine out of monitoring the Top Charts and estimating the current app market before developing and launching an app. Estimating the current market and understanding who to target will save time and money and ultimately create a more successful app.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.26.57 PM

The Death of Chart Boosting

At WWDC Apple announced that the App Store will be completely redesigned in the Fall of 2017. It seems that from the changes that are being made, Apple’s goal is to help improve the overall discoverability of content by breaking Games out from apps as well as highlighting more unique editorial handpicked content.

This change is a very strong indicator that Apple feels that Games as a category is becoming more dominant and needs its own spotlight. Games account for 81 percent of the App Store’s revenue, meaning the separation of games from apps will help level the playing field.  This change will allow apps in other categories to have a chance to flourish in the top charts that have consistently been dominated by games for years.

Another interesting twist from the announcement issued along with iOS 11 is that top charts will be moved off the home page where it previously existed under its own tab. Top charts will now be moved to an area within the respective category tabs, Games and Apps. Moving top charts out of the homepage marks a paradigm shift on how Apple views discoverability. This shift will push users away from finding apps via charts, ushering in greater discoverability through search and editorial placement.

But what does moving the top charts further inside the App Store mean for developers? It means that the death of “chart boosting,” a technique used by some developers to manipulate their chart ranking and downloads, is going to accelerate. With charts having less exposure, the ROI from these kinds of activities will likely plummet.

When the App Store launched and Apple’s ecosystem was still growing, top charts were the main way in which users discovered apps. This caused developers to prioritize chart boosting over other marketing methods. As the ecosystem matured, the number of users that discover apps through charts has dropped to under 25 percent, while 65 percent of apps are now found through App Store searches. This shift has helped make chart boosting significantly less relevant, especially at a CPI of $1 to $5 per download. Chart boosting is expensive with a whopping 40,000 downloads needed a day to rank in the top 25.

With Apple moving top charts out of the home page, and announcing that search is the largest channel for app discovery and downloads, developers must start embracing organic and building a more sustainable marketing strategy.

Nearly all marketing efforts need to start at the organic level, making ASO essential for a cost-effective app rollout. App Store Optimization helps developers keep up with the latest trends, boost visibility through keyword ranking and optimize creatives to increase conversion. By employing ASO best practices for the launch of an app, developers can create a more impactful marketing push, helping apps appear more frequently when users are searching for related keywords. Using ASO best practices can drive more users to click “Get” when they see the feature they are looking for.

If an App Store user is specifically looking for a meditation app, will they scroll through Top Charts to find one? No. They will directly search keywords such as “meditation apps” and glance trough the listings for the app that best represents what they are looking for. Developers must let go of chart boosting and focus on the future by embracing ASO to heighten visibility and improve conversion in the new world of iOS 11.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing