Four Facebook-owned properties—WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram—continue to dominate app downloads worldwide, according to the latest rankings from SensorTower.
TikTok, the Chinese app owned by ByteDance, was the only non Facebook-owned app to appear among the world’s top five most downloaded apps, although it did slip from second to 10th place in the U.S. market.
Snapchat, meanwhile, achieved its best ranking in any period since the second quarter of 2017, with downloads growing by 63% between April 1 and June 30. SensorTower attributes its growth to the addition of new features including a gender swap filter, and the popularity of Yolo—an anonymous Q&A app which launched in early May and quickly rose up the U.S. charts (it was the fifth most downloaded app in the U.S. during the quarter).
Snapchat had the second highest U.S. download growth among non-game apps in the quarter, topped only by HBO Now—which benefited from heightened consumer interest around the final season of the hit show Game of Thrones.
Worldwide app downloads across both the App Store and Google Play grew 11.5%, to 28.7 billion from 25.8 billion in the corresponding quarter last year. Google Play downloads grew 14.9% to 21.3 billion, while App store downloads were relatively flat—growing just 2.9% to 7.4 billion.
Is TikTok’s time already up?
Among the quarter’s most notable developments was Facebook surging past the social video darling TikTok to recapture third place in the overall app rankings. TikTok’s reign as the most downloaded app on the App Store also ended after five quarters (it was passed by YouTube).
TikTok’s decline was most pronounced in the U.S., where downloads across both the App Store and Google Play fell by 48% from the corresponding year-earlier period. That caused it to tumble to 10th in the non-game rankings after sitting second behind only Messenger in both the fourth quarter of 2018 (when it was the fastest-growing non-game app, with quarter over quarter growth of 5.9 million) and the first quarter of 2019.
Facebook and Google the leading publishers
While both Google and Facebook experienced a decline in downloads in the second quarter (downloads of Facebook-owned apps dropped 8.9% to around 710 million, for example), both companies remained comfortably ahead in the global publisher rankings.
The French publisher Voodoo, which specializes in hyper-casual games such as Ball Blast (which has more than 501 million downloads to date) and Fire Balls 3D (84.4 million downloads), was third with just over 300 million downloads in the quarter, followed by Turkey’s Good Job Games, Great Britain’s Outfit7, Belarus’ Say Games, and Israel’s TabTale.
Gaming the system
Games are by far the most popular apps across both the App Store and Google Play, with 10.46 billion downloads across the two services in the quarter.
There were 8.21 billion game apps downloaded on Google Play in the quarter, a 4.7% increase over the corresponding year-earlier period. Game downloads on the App Store, meanwhile, rose 5.1% to 2.25 billion.
The emergence of hyper-casual games contributed to considerable turnover in the gaming category, with 12 games—including the top-rated Stack Ball—appearing in the top 20 for the first time ever.
Hyper casual games, which boast simple “tap-to-play” mechanics, have become a powerful segment within the mobile space, attracting deep-pocketed investors such as Goldman Sachs—which invested US$200 million in the French publisher Voodoo in 2018.
Revenues for these games are expected to reach as much as $2 billion to $2.5 billion a year, with much of that coming via in-game advertising (although according to Venture Beat, only about 7% of the total investment comes from brands, with the majority of inventory, about 60%, going to other hyper-casual advertisers).
India led all countries with more than 5 billion app downloads in the quarter, while Indonesia passed Russia to become the world’s fourth largest app downloader, with approximately 1.5 billion downloads. Thailand also replaced South Korea in the top 10, with more than 500 million downloads.
SensorTower’s Store Intelligence Data Digest report is based on App Store and Google Play download estimates from April 1 through June 30. Downloads of the same app by the same user to multiple devices, updates or re-installs of the same app do not count towards the totals.