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May 23, 2019
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TikTok tops the iOS App Store for the fifth quarter in a row

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Despite a $5.7 million FTC fine and changes to restrict its use by under 13-year-olds, TikTok retained its No. 1 position as the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store for the fifth consecutive quarter, according to a new report from Sensor Tower. The app saw more than 33 million App Store downloads during Q1, and was followed by YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger to round out the top five.

The No. 16 top app, Twitter, also had a good quarter, the app store intelligence’s report noted.

With 11.7 million App Store downloads, it saw its biggest quarter in terms of downloads since Q1 2015 — and a year-over-year increase of 3.6 percent. Of course, these figures won’t necessarily translate to an increase in active users, though, as installs aren’t a direct correlation to usage.

But while TikTok was again topping the App Store, it wasn’t the most downloaded app on Android devices in Q1.

With a bigger footprint in emerging markets and a larger total user base, Android trends can look different from those on iOS. This past quarter, WhatsApp was the No. 1 app on Google Play with nearly 199 million installs. It was followed by Messenger, then TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger all saw over 150 millions apiece in Q1 2019, as did TikTok.

Though not the top app on Android, TikTok still had a huge quarter — particularly in India, where 88.6 million new users installed the app in Q1, up 8.2 times over Q1 2018, Sensor Tower noted in an earlier report. 

That said, TikTok’s numbers for the next quarter may not be as good. The app was banned in India in April over illegal content including pornography. While that ban was lifted later that month, Sensor Tower estimated it had cost the app at least 15 million downloads there, and what would have been its biggest-ever month.

An up-and-comer in Q1 included YouTube Kids, which saw a 291 percent quarter-over-quarter increase and 29 millions downloads on Google Play, where it joined YouTube and YouTube Music to become a top 20 app. 

With the two app stores figures’ combined, WhatsApp became the most downloaded app in the quarter with over 22 million installs across the App Store and Google Play.

Messenger clocked in at No. 2 with nearly 203 million installs. And TikTok’s gains on the App Store allowed it to take the No. 3. position, followed by Facebook and Instagram.

The rest of the top 10 didn’t change, with Facebook claiming four of the top five spots. Meanwhile, first-time users in India pushed image editor PicsArt into the worldwide top 20.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Tencent’s mixed bag for Q1: record profit despite weakest revenue growth yet

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Tencent, Asia’s largest tech firm, had a horrific 2018 on account of a country-wide freeze on new game monetization in China, but there’s evidence it has turned the corner.

The company’s new mobile gaming hit Game for Peace has yet to kickstart the company’s recovery from a few weakening quarters, but its booming financial technology division has helped to neutralize the brunt to some degree.

The Chinese social media and gaming titan ended the first quarter of 2019 with its slowest revenue growth since going public to $12.69 billion, a 16 percent increase year-over-year. On the other side, net profit came in at a record $4 billion, beating analyst estimates in the process.

Though most famous for WeChat, video games have fuelled Tencent’s earnings and stock prices for many years. The lucrative segment took a hit during a prolonged licensing freeze last year that prevented Tencent from monetizing a few blockbuster titles like PUBG, and the impact was still felt in the latest quarter.

Online games revenue for Q1 dropped to 28.51 billion yuan ($4.1 billion), compared to 28.78 billion yuan a year before. Still, it is a testament to the global appeal of PUBG and Fortnite that the revenue drop wasn’t precipitous despite the issues in China.

The sluggish period may end soon as Tencent recently secured the official green light to start charging for its PUGB substitute Game for Peace, a less violent version than its predecessor. The new game grossed $14 million within the first three days of release, beating the $4 million Fortnite — the widely-heralded global smash hit — pocketed in the same duration, according to data from Sensor Tower.

On top of that, Tencent said it is introducing ‘season passes’ — using the same monetization technique as PUBG and Fortnite — to popular games Cross Fire Mobile, Honour of Kings and QQ Speed Mobile which could also boost monetization in China.

Fintech and enterprise-facing services made up Tencent’s second-largest revenue bucket with 21.79 billion yuan ($3.16 billion), a 44 percent growth year-over-year. In recent quarters, the firm began to single out its earnings for its booming fintech unit that contains its popular payments service WeChat Pay.

Unlike Facebook, Tencent hasn’t aggressively monetized its social media empire for advertising inventory until recently. Online ad revenues grew 25 percent to 13.38 billion yuan ($1.94 billion), accounting for 15.7 percent of total revenues.

That’s thanks to increased ad revenues from Weixin. All told, WeChat and its Chinese version Weixin crossed the 1.1 billion monthly active user benchmark. Its 20-year-old QQ, a legacy chatting app from the Chinese PC era, continued to grow and reached 823 MAUs.

Tencent’s Netflix -style video streaming service also contributed to increased ad earnings. Tencent Video, which has poured vast sums of money to license content in a bid to outrace Baidu’s iQiyi and Alibaba’s Youku, reached 89 million subscribers in the season.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Tencent replaces hit mobile game PUBG with a Chinese government-friendly alternative

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China’s new rules on video games, introduced last month, are having an effect on the country’s gamers. Today, Tencent replaced hugely popular battle royale shooter game PUBG with a more government-friendly alternative that seems primed to pull in significant revenue.

The company introduced ‘Game for Peace’ in a Weibo post at the same time as PUBG — which stands for Player Unknown Battlegrounds — was delisted from China. The title had been in wide testing but without revenue, and now it seems Tencent gave up on securing a license to monetize the title.

In its place, Game for Peace is very much the type of game that will pass the demands of China’s game censorship body. Last month, the country’s State Administration of Press and Publication released a series of demands for new titles, including bans on corpses and blood, references of imperial history and gambling. The new Tencent title bears a striking resemblance to PUBG but there are no dead bodies, while it plays up to a nationalist theme with a focus on China’s air force — or, per the Weibo message, “the blue sky warriors that guard our country’s airspace” — and their battle against terrorists.

Game for Peace was developed by Krafton, the Korea-based publisher formerly known as BlueHole which made PUBG. Beyond visual similarities, Reuters reported that the games are twinned since some player found that their progress and achievements on PUBG had transferred over to the new game.

Tencent representatives declined to comment on the new game or the end of PUBG’s ‘beta testing’ period in China when contacted by TechCrunch. But a company rep apparently told Reuters that “they are very different genres of games.”

Tencent’s new ‘Game for Peace’ title is almost exactly the same as its popular PUBG game, which it is replacing [Image via Weibo]

Fortnite may have grabbed the attention for its explosive growth — we previously reported that the game helped publisher Epic Games bank a profit of $3 billion last year — but PUBG has more quietly become a fixture among mobile gamers, particularly in Asia.

At the end of last year, Krafton told The Verge that it was past 200 million registered gamers, with 30 million players each day. According to app analytics company Sensor Tower, PUBG grossed more than $65 million from mobile players in March thanks to 83 percent growth which saw it even beat Fortnite. There is also a desktop version.

PUBG made more money than Fortnite on mobile in March 2019, according to data from Sensor Tower

That is really the point of Tencent’s switcheroo: to make money.

The company suffered at the hands of China’s gaming license freeze last year, and a regulatory-compliant title like Game for Peace has a good shot at getting the green light for monetization — through the sale of virtual items and seasonal memberships.

Indeed, analysts at China Renaissance believe the new title could rake in as much as $1.5 billion in annual revenue, according to the Reuters report. That’s a lot to get excited about and resuscitating gaming will be an important part of Tencent’s strategy this year — which has already seen it restructure its business to focus emerging units like cloud computing, and pledge to use its technology to “do good.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

HBO’s mobile apps to gain a million new downloads courtesy of ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere

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In addition to exciting its loyal legion of fans, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” premiere was also once again great news for installs of the network’s app for cord cutters, HBO NOW, which shot to the top of the App Store this weekend. The app this weekend saw a combined 300,000-plus new mobile subscribers in the U.S. across both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to preliminary estimates from Sensor Tower.

This is the highest the app has ranked on the U.S. iPhone App Store in three years, Sensor Tower notes, with its previous highest ranking on April 24, 2016 for the Season 6 “Game of Thrones” premiere. At that time, the app had seen 160,000 downloads on just the one day.

Sensor Tower soon expects to have more precise estimates of the premiere’s impact, as it wants to incorporate numbers from the fans who are getting a late start and downloading the app today.

Currently, the app is holding its No. 1 position on Apple’s App Store. If that continues, it could easily add another couple hundred thousand over the course of today (Monday, April 15, 2019), Sensor Tower estimates. That could see the app surpassing 500,000 new downloads across the three-day period.

To be clear, these numbers refer to users who have never before installed the app on their phone — not re-downloads.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a 1:1 correlation with new HBO NOW subscribers. Many fans watch the series on their TV’s big screen through an HBO app for devices like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and others. Or they may tune in to watch on the web, via their laptop. Still, it’s a notable number — especially considering how late it is in the series for the show to be gaining new fans.

HBO’s app for cable and satellite TV customers, HBO Go, also did well this weekend. It’s on track to exceed 400,000 installs over the same three-day period (the weekend of the Season 8 premiere, plus Monday). This is highest the app has ranked since the Season 7 premiere in July 2017, when it added 350,000 first-time users across both stores worldwide.

Combined, the two apps — HBO Go and HBO NOW — are poised to exceed more than 1 million new installs in this three-day period, Sensor Tower forecasts.

However, fans’ interest in the long-awaited new season may have caused HBO’s apps to struggle some.

There have been reports from Down Detector and Business Insider of users who had issues streaming from the HBO apps, as well as Hulu. But these were nowhere on the scale of crashes we’ve seen in years past — as with the Season 4 “Game of Thrones” premiere, which had HBO issuing a public apology due to the size of the outage. (HBO says it did not have issues with HBO NOW or HBO Go. So the small number of issues could be chalked up to users’ broadband connections, or other factors.)

Other TV apps had a few glitches, too, thanks to the premiere. For example, the TV-tracking social app TV Time temporarily struggled to load, shortly after the premiere’s airing last night. On its app, “Game of Thrones” is one of the most-tracked shows, where it has 4.3 million followers who post comments, photos, memes and more to the show’s in-app community. Today, there are some 6,200 comments in the show’s forum from fans discussing the show.

4/15/19, 3:07 PM ET: Updated with HBO comment after publication. 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Tinder becomes the top-grossing, non-game app in Q1 2019, ending Netflix’s reign

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For the first time in years, Netflix is no longer the top grossing, non-game mobile app. Instead, that title now goes to dating app Tinder. The change in position is not surprising, given Netflix’s decision in December to stop paying the so-called “Apple tax.” That is, it no longer allows new users to sign up and subscribe to its service through its iOS application.

The change was said to cost Apple hundreds of millions in lost revenue per year, given that Netflix’s app had been the world’s top-earning, non-game app since Q4 2016. Now, instead of giving up its 15 to 30 percent cut of subscription revenue, new users have to sign up through Netflix’s website before they can use the app on mobile devices, including both iOS and Android. (Netflix had dropped in-app subscriptions on Android earlier.)

App store intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimated Netflix had earned $853 million in 2018 on the iOS App Store. A 30 percent cut would have been around $256 million. However, after the first year, subscription apps only have to pay out 15 percent to Apple. But Netflix had a special deal, according to John Gruber — it only had to pay 15 percent from the get-go.

In any event, it’s still a large sum. And one large enough to end Netflix’s reign at the top of the revenue charts.

In Q1 2019, Sensor Tower estimates Netflix pulled in $216.3 million globally, across both the Apple App Store and Google Play, down 15 percent quarter-over-quarter from $255.7 million in Q4 2018.

Meanwhile, Tinder’s revenue has climbed. In the first quarter, it saw revenue grow by 42 percent year-over-year, to reach $260.7 million, up from $183 million in Q1 2018.

That put it at the top, according to both Sensor Tower and App Annie’s estimates.

Beyond Tinder, Line, and Line Manga, the rest of the top grossing, non-game apps in Q1 2019 were also focused on streaming, music and video, in Sensor Tower’s analysis. This included Tencent Video (No. 3), iQIYI (No. 4), YouTube (No. 5), Pandora (No. 6), Kwai (No. 7), and Youku (No. 10).

Meanwhile the top downloaded, non-game apps in the quarter were largely those focused on social media, messaging and video. This included, in order: WhatsApp, Messenger, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, SHAREit, YouTube, LIKE Video, Netflix and Snapchat.

tiktok ios icon

TikTok, notably, has held onto its No. 3 position, having grown its new users 70 percent year-over-year, by adding 188 million in Q1. The growth was driven by India, where 88.6 million new users joined the app, compared with “just” 13.2 million in the U.S. — or 181 percent year-over-year growth.

To date, Sensor Tower has seen the app installed over 1.1 billion times. (But keep in mind that’s not total users — many people install it on multiple devices. Nor is it monthly active users. On that front, the app has 500 million monthly actives, as of the end of its third quarter 2018.)

TikTok also did well on the revenue side thanks to in-app purchases, though not well enough to start ranking in the top charts. User spending was 222 percent higher in Q1 2019 versus Q1 2018, reaching an estimated $18.9 million worldwide.

Overall, Apple’s App Store accounted for 64 percent of revenue in Q1, with consumer spending reaching $12.4 billion compared to Google Play’s $7.1 billion. New app downloads slowed on iOS in Q1, decreasing 4.7 percent year-over-year to 7.4 billion, while Google Play downloads grew 18.8 percent to 20.7 billion.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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