2014 saw a steep rise in the growth of mobile apps and app stores. It witnessed numerous new trends taking shape; be it the rise of casual gaming or the emergence of messaging platforms as the dominant option for publishers looking to expand into new regions. As 2015 is still unfurling, many mobile app startups have already raised huge investments. Mobile app analytics company App Annie has come out with a report on how was 2014 for apps and appstores
Some of the findings as per the App Annie include:
- The prominent rise of single tap ‘super casual’ gaming; Success story of Flappy Bird
- On demand transportation apps enjoyed massive growth; Uber and Lyft riding the disruptive wave to multibillion dollar valuations
- Evolution of messaging apps into diverse, multi functional platforms; Leading to be de facto avenues for publishers looking to distribute content to large audience
Following is a detailed summary of the report:
- Google Play maintains its dominance over iOS App Store in World Wide Downloads
However iOS App Store maintained its advantage when it comes to monetization, generating 70% more yearly app revenue than Google Play, though both the stores saw steady growth in 2014.
- App superpowers’ revenue skyrocketed in 2014; while BRIC look to make 2015 their year.
The app store superpowers, Japan, South Korea and USA collectively generated more revenue than the rest of the world, showcasing their ability to monetize even against adverse condition like market saturation and low download growth. BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) continue with its impressive growth streak. Brazil moved up three ranks to finish in #2 position by Google Play downloads after United States and China led the pack in revenue generation to finish in #3 position by iOS revenues behind only the US and Japan. BRIC countries’ combined revenue grew by 120% in 2014, thanks to their growing monetization potential and expansive audience. 2015 also expects strong growth trends in Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam owing to the continued investment in the telecom infrastructure in these emerging markets.
- Messaging apps evolve as gateways to new audience
Messaging Apps continued their growth in 2014. WhatsApp success led social networking giant Facebook to acquire it for a whopping $19 billion in order to cement itself in the mobile-first world. Other platforms such as LINE and WeChat grew through a variety of functionalities beyond gaming and sticker packs, such as taxi hailing, mobile payments and streaming media. As more and more user and money flow through their apps, it will be exciting to see how messaging powers differentiate themselves as they vie for global dominance.
- Travel and Transporting Apps led surge in the Sharing Economy
The sharing economy has revolutionized the way consumers live, work and interacts with their communities. From 2013 to 2014, the top 10 travel and transportation apps grew over 30% in downloads. 2014 saw on-demand transportation apps turn the taxi industry on its head as companies like Uber and Lyft amassed large user bases and even larger valuations with funding from some of the biggest names in venture capital. Strategic partnerships accelerated the rapid adoption of these apps, with Uber integrating with Google Maps in May and Lyft partnering with crowdsourcing public transit app Moovit in June.
- Mobile video streaming Apps gained popularity.
A variety of factors collectively were responsible for the impressive download numbers of video streaming apps. In China especially, increased availability of high-speed data, more generous data plans, and the move towards larger phone screen sizes (phablets) helped drive mobile viewing sharply up. Localization of content worked out well for Netflix in Europe. For many TV networks, a good app is now an integral part of their viewer retention strategy. Increased
demand in mobile video content coincided with some networks unbundling themselves from pay TV operators, with sports apps such as MLB.com At Bat , NFL Game Pass and BoxNation delivering content directly to users without third-party restrictions. 2015 expects to see more unbundling of premium contents from traditional carriers as mobile streaming option continue to grow, giving the consumers more freedom than ever, when it comes to consumption of content.
- Silver Screen Icons bundle with Mobile to increase success.
As smartphone penetration reached impressive levels, popular cultural icons found great success when repackaged within mobile games. Movie-based games peaked with premieres and helped in extending the lifecycle of the intellectual property thus fostering brand loyalty and help increase the engagement level of the users. For instance, Despicable Me ranked among the top 10 games by worldwide December downloads 18 months after the app’s initial release. Games based on TV brands like Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff not only appealed to the present viewers, but also attracted new audiences.
- Demographics bias more female for Social networking and Photo/Video sharing
Understanding ones’ target group or core users on mobile is vital for any publisher aiming for success in 2015 and beyond. When compared to the gender ratio of overall app downloads in US, mobile gamers tended to be slightly more male in composition, whereas social networking and Photo/Video categories were biased towards female audiences. Visual discovery apps like Pinterest are home to legions of loyal female users who create and share aspirational content, making it an ideal platform for brand marketers looking to build their mobile presence.
- Super Casual Gaming steals the show
As people started spending more and more of their leisure times on their phones, super casual games stole the spotlight thanks to now defunct viral game Flappy Bird. Its virality led to a lot of imitators, but the concept of simple, short sessions and single tap games took hold. Among top apps, one or more ‘super casual’ games finished in the top 10 by monthly downloads for 10 out of 12 months in 2014, lending further credence to the theory that a broad swath of mobile users consume games in simple, bite-sized portions.
- Localization drove growth in the Music App section.
As the number of music apps started multiplying on the app stores, localization proved vital to the big players in different markets. While Spotify and Shazam did well in the United States and Western Europe, there was a huge demand of regional music services with local market knowledge and expertise. In china, Tencent’s QQ Music took the lead by focusing on premium audio quality and its broad and diversified content including western and eastern hits. In Brazil, Palco MP3 focused purely on local talent, boasting around 90000 artists on its app. As the music space continues to evolve in 2015, companies have to come up with premium experiences for their local markets by sourcing the best artists and constantly enhancing the experience through product innovation.
Below is a snapshot of the Top Apps and Publishers around the world.