App Annie Index: Apps – Messaging Apps Evolving Into Media Platforms

Sept 2013 Apps Header
Disney Promotes Console Game & Kakao Introduces Two New Apps

The App Annie Apps Index brings you the top-performing publishers and apps outside of games across both the iOS App Store and Google Play based on market data from App Annie Intelligence. To find out what’s happening with the overall market and game apps, please check out our Q3 2013 Market Index and September 2013 Games Index.

Kakao Expands Platform While LINE Increases Focus on India

Kakao released an update that overhauled the user interface for KakaoTalk and launched two new apps, KakaoGroup and KakaoMusic, within weeks of each other. KakaoGroup lets users create private groups for chatting and KakaoMusic encourages users to create music rooms where friends can comment and listen to songs that they have purchased. Meanwhile, LINE announced that they will launch another TV commercial campaign in India during the Hindu festival Diwali in early November. LINE also forged a partnership with Sony India to preload their messaging app on two of their top phones.

Disney Infinity Promoted with Augmented Reality App

Disney launched Disney Infinity: Action! to help promote the launch of their ambitious console game Disney Infinity that lets players build their own games with unique environments and sets of rules. It is the first console game from Disney that combines characters from a number of their hit animated franchises. To draw attention to this feature, Disney Infinity: Action! lets users create videos that use augmented reality to overlay popular characters from movies like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles and Pirates of Caribbean.

 

Top Publishers by Monthly Downloads Excluding GamesiOS September 2013

Publisher Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Headquarters Total Apps
(incl. games)
1 Google - United States 35
2 Apple - United States 35
3 Tencent - China 131
4 Facebook - United States 12
5 Baidu 1 China 106
6 Disney 6 United States 357
7 Tap Nation - Belarus 28
8 Outfit 7 3 Cyprus 71
9 Microsoft 1 United States 57
10 Twitter 2 United States 10
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

Disney rose 6 spots to become the #6 app publisher by monthly downloads on the iOS App Store in September. The Disney Creativity Studio iPad app that teaches users how to draw their favorite characters helped Disney reach #6 after they released an update that added new characters and lowered the price from $0.99 to free. Shortly after the update and price change, Apple featured it on the iOS App Store homepage as a ‘Best New App’ in up to 17 countries from September 26th through the 30th:

 

Disney Creativity Studio Chart

Disney Creativity Studio shot up the ranks after an app update, price drop, and featured spot on the iOS App Store homepage.

 

As part of the launch for their new Disney Infinity gaming initiative that lets players create their own games in an open world arena, Disney released Disney Infinity: Action! and Disney Infinity: Toy Box. Disney Infinity: Action! is a video creation app used to promote the launch that leverages augmented reality technology to overlay more than 30 different animations on a video captured with an iPhone or iPad. Disney Infinity: Toy Box is an iPad game that lets you create unique gaming environments and rules that sync with the console version of the game. Disney’s integration of mobile apps into their console gaming experience is similar to a trend seen in the September Games Index where Take Two Interactive launched a mobile game that integrated with the console version of Grand Theft Auto V, and EA launched a mobile version of their hit console franchise FIFA 14.

 

Disney Infinity: Action!

Disney launched Disney Infinity: Action! to promote the launch of their console game.

 

Beyond their animated movie franchises, Disney also owns ESPN, and saw a number of their apps improve in the download rankings as the NFL and college football seasons began in late August. ESPN Fantasy Football in particular took advantage of the growing popularity of fantasy football and helped drive Disney’s downloads in September, but ESPN College Football, ESPN ScoreCenter, and WatchESPN each climbed the ranks as well.

 

Top Publishers by Monthly Downloads Excluding GamesGoogle Play September 2013

Publisher Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Headquarters Total Apps
(incl. games)
1 Facebook - United States 7
2 Google - United States 90
3 Sungy Mobile 2 China 1,995
4 WhatsApp 1 United States 2
5 Microsoft 1 United States 41
6 Outfit 7 2 Cyprus 33
7 LINE - Japan 106
8 NAVER 9 South Korea 849
9 Kakao 9 South Korea 16
10 Kingsoft 4 China 36
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

Sungy Mobile, the company behind GO Dev Team’s popular Android home screen customization apps GO Launcher EX and Next Launcher 3D, filed for IPO on October 22nd. The 3rd most downloaded and 2nd top grossing publisher on Google Play in September has been a top performer each month since App Annie’s 1st Index Report published in November 2012. When App Annie asked what factors have helped Sungy Mobile find such consistent success, CEO Yuqiang Deng explained:

User experience is the most important factor to becoming a successful publisher, and it’s not only about visual and interactive design. One must have an absolutely clear description, fascinating visuals, and videos to attract users. There must also be detailed users guides and a commitment to utilizing feedback from customers. Further, data analysis is a key component. Utilizing multiple internal and external sources of data, from operation data to users’ feedback to App Annie’s data, helps us deeply understand market and industry trends, monitor our competition, and as a result, optimize our product features and adjust our business strategy in near real-time. Lastly, it’s important to keep creative. Beyond our brand’s known product Go Launcher, we developed many new apps to the market like Next Launcher, Toucher Pro, Next Browers, etc. These apps could increase our user base, business income, and brand awareness.

As their CEO alluded to, Sungy Mobile launched Toucher Pro at the end of August and saw it quickly climb the ranks:

 

Toucher Pro Chart

Toucher Pro helped drive Sungy Mobile’s downloads after a strong launch in a number of countries.

 

In addition to an overhaul of KakaoTalk’s user interface on both iOS and Android, Kakao launched two new apps in September that helped them climb 9 spots to #9 in the top publishers by monthly non-game downloads on Google Play. On September 6th, Kakao announced the launch of KakaoGroup, which lets KakaoTalk users create private groups of up to 500 people for sharing stories, pictures, and group chats. It only took 2 days to become the #1 overall app by free downloads in South Korea, and only 5 days later Kakao announced that the app surpassed 5 million users. Later in the month, Kakao released a social music service called KakaoMusic. Similar to KakaoGroup’s rapid ascension in the South Korean Google Play download ranks, KakaoMusic became the #1 overall app by free downloads in South Korea just 3 days after its launch. It took a little longer for KakaoMusic to reach 5 million users than KakaoGroup, but any app that reaches that milestone in its first month has achieved a major accomplishment. KakaoMusic’s most unique feature is that users can create personally curated music rooms where their friends on KakaoTalk can comment on the music they purchased. Now that most of the major messaging apps have integrated games, music might be the next mountain to climb. WeChat recently gave brand accounts the ability to let users in China stream music from their page, and LINE revealed their plans to launch LINE Music at their Hello, Friends in Tokyo event in August.

 

Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue Excluding GamesiOS September 2013

Publisher Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Headquarters Total Apps
(incl. games)
1 Pandora - United States 1
2 LINE - Japan 94
3 Apple - United States 35
4 Disney 2 United States 357
5 Microsoft 1 United States 57
6 Zoosk 1 United States 1
7 Badoo - United Kingdom 2
8 Condé Nast 8 United States 208
9 TomTom 5 Netherlands 43
10 Smule 3 United States 12
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

Smule climbed 3 spots to earn the #10 ranking among iOS App Store publishers by monthly revenue in September. The music app publisher’s Sing! Karaoke by Smule was updated soon after the release of iOS 7, overhauling its design and incorporating new audio enhancements to take advantage of the 64-bit processing power of the new iPhone 5s. Smule’s use of the new iOS 7 design and iPhone 5s features earned them a featured spot on the iOS App Store’s homepage and the “Designed for iOS 7” section that was promoted heavily at the end of September:

 

Sing! Karaoke by Smule

Sing! Karaoke by Smule was featured prominently on the iOS App Store after the app was updated to leverage the processing power of the iPhone 5s.

 

Smule made headlines at the beginning of October when they launched a website to act as a social network for their karaoke app. They also revealed some of their user numbers during the website’s launch, stating that Sing! Karaoke had 12 million installs over the past year on iOS and Android, 3 million of whom are monthly active users.

 

Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue Excluding GamesGoogle Play September 2013

Publisher Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Headquarters Total Apps
(incl. games)
1 LINE - Japan 106
2 Sungy Mobile 5 China 1,995
3 Kakao 1 South Korea 16
4 GREE 1 Japan 125
5 Pandora 1 United States 2
6 Voltage - Japan 48
7 TomTom 5 Netherlands 29
8 comiXology 3 United States 2
9 WhatsApp 1 United States 2
10 Garmin - United States 32
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

LINE retained their position as the top grossing non-game publisher on Google Play in September. LINE messenger users received an update near the end of September that allows them to make video calls with their friends. The update also included a feature called Snap Movie that lets users share short video clips with each other, but Android users will have to be a little patient while the feature is ported from the iPhone app. After just three months, LINE announced that they surpassed 10 million users in India and further emphasized their goal of being the top messaging app in the #3 ranked country by Google Play downloads in the Q3 Market Index.

After the success of their first TV commercial, LINE announced that they are launching another campaign during Diwali, the 5-day Hindu Festival of Lights, featuring Bollywood star Katrina Kaif. In addition to their Diwali TV campaign, LINE has partnered with Sony India to provide the messaging app pre-installed on the Xperia Z1 and Xperia C. As part of the deal, Sony Music Entertainment will open official accounts on LINE that cater to popular musical genres in India, like Bollywood and Indipop. To further increase their reach in India’s media landscape, LINE has also partnered with two upcoming Bollywood movies to offer exclusive content to fans.

As the competition to be the top messaging app heats up, LINE has made it clear that they are betting big on the world’s third largest market for smartphones after China and the US.

 

Top Apps by Monthly Downloads Excluding GamesiOS September 2013

App Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Publisher Headquarters Category
1 YouTube - Google United States Photo & Video
2 Facebook 3 Facebook United States Social Networking
3 WhatsApp Messenger - WhatsApp United States Social Networking
4 Google Maps 2 Google United States Navigation
5 Instagram 1 Facebook United States Photo & Video
6 Google Search 20 Google United States Reference
7 Find My iPhone - Apple United States Utilities
8 Twitter 3 Twitter United States Social Networking
9 Snapchat 1 Snapchat United States Photo & Video
10 Skype for iPhone - Microsoft United States Social Networking
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

Google Search rose 20 spots in the rankings to join YouTube and Google Maps in the Top 6 most downloaded apps on the iOS App Store in September. Google updated the Google Search app to include Google Now, which integrated voice search and uses information from your Google account to provide cards with useful information like news alerts and driving directions.

 

Top Apps by Monthly Downloads Excluding GamesGoogle Play September 2013

App Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Publisher Headquarters Category
1 Facebook - Facebook United States Social
2 WhatsApp Messenger - WhatsApp United States Communication
3 Skype - Microsoft United States Communication
4 Instagram 2 Facebook United States Social
5 LINE 1 LINE Japan Communication
6 Facebook Messenger 1 Facebook United States Communication
7 Twitter 2 Twitter United States Social
8 Clean Master 9 Kingsoft China Tools
9 Viber 1 Viber Media Cyprus Communication
10 Super-Bright LED Flashlight 1 Surpax United States Productivity
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

 

Clean Master by Kingsoft rose 9 spots in the rankings to become the 8th most downloaded app on Google Play in September. The performance optimization app was nominated as one of the best apps of 2013, a month after it received an update that made it easier and faster for users to manage the data on their phone and boost memory. The update also removed a lot of the “geek-speak” from the app to make it easier for less tech-savvy users to understand its value. Clean Master saw big gains in its download rank shortly after the update in early September:

 

Clean Master Chart

Clean Master saw its download rank improve in India, Indonesia, Brazil, and a number of other countries after its early September update.

 

Top Apps by Monthly Revenue Excluding GamesiOS September 2013

App Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Publisher Headquarters Category
1 Pandora - Pandora United States Music
2 LINE - LINE Japan Social Networking
3 Zoosk - Zoosk United States Social Networking
4 Skype for iPhone - Microsoft United States Social Networking
5 Pages - Apple United States Productivity
6 Badoo - Badoo United Kingdom Social Networking
7 MLB.com At Bat - MLB United States Sports
8 Grindr Xtra - Grindr United States Social Networking
9 Comics 1 comiXology United States Books
10 NYTimes for iPad 1 NY Times United States News
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

The top grossing apps on the iOS App Store remained consistent from August to September. Pandora led the top grossing iOS apps for six straight months and released a major update for their iPad app in September. This update added social sharing features and much of the core functionality found in their web and iPhone experiences, such as adding variety to stations.

comiXology announced via their Twitter feed that they passed 200 million downloads in September as Comics rose one spot to #9 in the iOS App Store monthly revenue rankings. In the lead up to the New York City Comic Con, comiXology shared some interesting results from a survey they conducted of digital comic book readers. 20% of new digital comic buyers in Q3 2013 said that their first comic purchase was digital, and 64% of those new buyers now purchase print comics as well. Since their launch, female comiXology readers have grown from just 5% of their users to 20% and tend to be somewhat younger than the average male reader. comiXology readers are also willing to pay for their content, as the average user spent $100 per year on comics and illegal downloading rates decreased by 25% from 2012 to 2013.

 

Top Apps by Monthly Revenue Excluding GamesGoogle Play September 2013

App Rank Change
vs. Aug 2013
Publisher Headquarters Category
1 LINE - LINE Japan Communication
2 KakaoTalk - Kakao South Korea Communication
3 GREE - GREE Japan Social
4 Pandora - Pandora United States Music & Audio
5 LINE 占い (Fortune-telling) - LINE Japan Entertainment
6 WhatsApp Messenger 2 WhatsApp United States Communication
7 LINE マンガ (Manga) 1 LINE Japan Comics
8 Comics 1 comiXology United States Comics
9 SwiftKey Keyboard - SwiftKey United Kingdom Productivity
10 Norton Security antivirus 1 Symantec United States Tools
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

 

The top five grossing apps on Google Play maintained their position in the rankings from August, led by three social messaging apps that integrate gaming into their user experience: LINE, KakaoTalk, and GREE. Rising two spots to land just outside of the Top 5, WhatsApp’s #6 ranking gave the social and communication categories 4 of the top 6 grossing apps on Google Play in September. After rising to #2 in the August Apps Index, KakaoTalk released an update for their messaging app in the beginning of September that overhauled the user interface to focus on usability and brand identity. Kakao decided to make the design between their Android and iPhone apps more consistent by moving some of the features hidden in the phone’s menu button to the screen. They also shifted to a flatter visual design that featured their brand logos and colors more prominently. When asked about what has driven the success of KakaoTalk, a spokesperson for Kakao told App Annie:

“KakaoTalk’s success can be attributed to these three core factors: good timing, mobile first, and user first. KakaoTalk was one of the first messenger products available to Korean users, and naturally became an innovator and leader in the mobile service industry. Next, developed with “mobile” in mind, it offered only the most important core messaging features which made it easy for users of any age. Lastly, and most importantly, KakaoTalk’s success is attributed to our philosophy of “users first.” Rather than passively serving users, we actively incorporate user requests and suggestions into our services, which allows Kakao to flourish and build a service of incomparable value. The potential that KakaoTalk holds as a mobile social platform, and the value that it provides the industry as a whole, is limitless.”

 

KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk’s Android user interface was updated in September to create a more consistent brand identity across operating systems.

 

For those of you who also are looking for an update on the overall market and top apps in gaming, please check out our Q3 2013 Market Index and September 2013 Games Index.

 

Notes:

  • App Annie Index rankings are based on data from App Annie Intelligence. Daily rank history charts and home page feature app data that is available to all users through App Annie’s app tracker solution, Store Stats.
  • While the Games Index covers games, the Apps Index provides app tracking on everything but games. Note that the Top Publishers rankings in the Games Index are based solely on the publishers’ games downloads and revenue, while the Top Publishers rankings in the Apps Index are based on the publishers’ non-games downloads and revenue.
  • Up until now, publisher rankings in the App Annie Games Index and Apps Index have been based on apps that ranked in the Top 1,000. Effective with September 2013 data, publisher rankings are based on publishers’ full set of apps.
  • In the iOS App Store, an app can be categorized under a Primary Category as well as an optional Secondary Category. If an app has a Primary Category of Entertainment and a Secondary Category of Games, it is a candidate to be included in this Apps Index. If the app’s Primary Category is Games and its Secondary Category is Entertainment, then it will not be included in this Apps Index; it is a candidate for the Games Index.
  • Note that the ranking approach used in the App Annie Index differs from that used in the iOS App Store. In the latter, app rankings for a given category will include all apps whose Primary Category or Secondary Category matches that given category. So an app can appear in the rankings for more than one category within the iOS App Store or in App Annie Store Stats rankings.
  • In Google Play, an app can be categorized under only one category, so there is no double-categorization.
  • Occasionally, a publisher may decide to shift an existing app from one category to another category. In these cases, the App Annie Index will rank that app based on how it is categorized in the subsequent month. Given that the App Annie Index now has a Games report and an Apps report, the scenario where an app’s recategorization could shift it from one Index to another is if its category changes from the Games category to a category other than Games or vice versa.
  • All publishers have been grouped together under their parent publishers, where available. For example, the Instagram app is included under the parent publisher of Facebook.
  • In the App Annie Index, all apps and publishers are reported under their parent publishers, where available; for example, the Instagram app is reported under its parent publisher Facebook, rather than its direct publisher Burbn. Note that if you view the Facebook publisher page on Store Stats, you will see the apps that are published directly by the Facebook publisher account. The Instagram app will be listed separately under the Burbn publisher page.
  • Apps with different names are ranked separately. For example, NYTimes and NYTimes for iPad are ranked as two separate apps.
  • App Annie Index revenue rankings are based on revenue that the iOS App Store and Google Play earned from paid downloads and in-app purchases. They do not include revenue earned from in-app advertising.
  • Any non-App Annie trademarks or images used in this report are the property of their respective owners. App Annie claims no rights in those trademarks.

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