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Our Top 3 Mobile Apps to Watch in 2015

A collage of app icons from the iOS App Store.

It’s hard to believe that the iPhone will turn eight years old this July. While it may seem like only yesterday that we were asking what an “app” is, the marketplace hasn’t stopped to reflect: this year, at least one and a half billion smartphones will be sold by more than 180 vendors around the world. With all those smartphones in use, apps continue to see skyrocketing usage: right now, the average mobile app user spends more than thirty hours a month across more than two dozen apps. No wonder it’s expected that within two years more than a quarter of a billion app downloads will generate upwards of $77 billion in revenue.

7Park Data is in a unique position to help clients understand the impact of evolving consumer behavior on mobile: our App Intelligence Platform leverages global panels of millions of anonymous iOS and Android device users to deliver actionable insights into app usage and engagement with unparalleled history, granularity and scale. It enables us, in real time, to quickly and confidently identify trends as they emerge.

So what does our intelligence show and what can we expect in 2015? Before we get to 2015, let’s recap 2014.


INSTAGRAM BECAME A MOBILE FORCE — DOMINANT AMONG TEENS

The popular photo-sharing app greatly expanded its audience in 2014, both in terms of diversity of demographic as well as geographical distribution. Instagram remains the dominant social media app among teens—a segment that many apps struggle to keep engaged.


MESSAGING PLATFORMS TOOK OFF

Across all regions and demographics, adoption and use of next generation mobile communication tools took off in 2014, upsetting the mobile app landscape in ways that will continue into 2015 in a significant way.

  • 2014 US Winners: Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Kik
  • 2014 International Winners: WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat

CANDY CRUSH SAGA DEMONSTRATED THE POWER AND PITFALLS OF VIRAL MOBILE GAMES

Candy Crush Saga, the massively popular game from King Digital peaked (from an engagement perspective) in late 2013. Mitigating the game’s inevitable decline became the top priority for King in 2014. The incredible success achieved by Candy Crush Saga again illustrates a key challenge for mobile gaming: creating a sequel for a massively popular game that attracts new players and re-engages existing players.

Moving onto 2015, below are three apps for which we’ve seen unusually solid growth indicators. We believe these three apps are poised to succeed in 2015:


PINTEREST

Pinterest makes the leap to mobile commerce and native advertising powerhouse While Pinterest is well known, the social discovery and sharing platform does not get the credit it rightfully deserves. Pinterest is incredibly well-positioned on mobile, with:

  • A large, growing audience
  • High penetration among the Teen demographic
  • High overall engagement and retention among its users

Together, these are strong indicators for continued success and, due to its inherent commercial nature, there are valuable opportunities for monetization.

Chart showing Pinterest reach in U.S. between December 2013 and December 2014.
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Bottom line: Yes, you know about Pinterest, but it’s likely you’re underestimating its significance. If Pinterest capitalizes on the tremendous opportunity to engage with its large and loyal user base with an integrated mobile shopping experience, 2015 will be the year Pinterest becomes a major player in m-commerce and native mobile advertising.


SPOTIFY

Spotify remains the world’s leading streaming service on mobile Due to growing popularity across demographics and broad global availability, Spotify is the leading mobile streaming music service around the world. Spotify has attracted a remarkably large global audience with solid market penetration in 10+ large markets on both Android and iOS—and Spotify continues to take share in the United States following the launch of mobile streaming in December 2013. In addition, Weekly Active User growth (globally) accelerated throughout 2014:

  • Q1 ’14 vs. Q1 ’13: +49%
  • Q2 ’14 vs. Q2 ’13: +99%
  • Q3 ’14 vs. Q3 ’13: +160%
  • Q4 ’14 vs. Q4 ’13: +182%
Chart showing Spotify for Android
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Bottom line: While an IPO in 2015 remains unclear, we expect observers will see Spotify’s growth and engagement data as strong indicators for long-term value. There are also plenty of opportunities for Spotify to differentiate itself in the marketplace and add value with new features. As example, Spotify could leverage partnerships with music labels or artists to develop exclusive tracks or gain early rights to albums to share with its highly engaged user base; we could see a Netflix-style production or distribution service for music.


FITBIT

Fitbit trail-blazes the path forward for wearables Fitbit continues to muscle its way forward with strong growth on mobile, likely benefitting from a solid integrated mobile experience and a growing trend in both wearables and mobile-enabled heath monitoring. Fitbit demonstrated significant annual growth, and is experiencing a much higher post-New Years bump in activity than last year:

  • Android MAUs in January ‘14 (at time of publishing): +182% vs. Jan ‘13
  • iOS MAUs in January ’14 (at time of publishing): +108% vs. Jan ‘13
Chart showing Fitbit
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Bottom line: Fitbit is emerging as a leader among wearable-powered mobile app as well as health monitoring platform, helping usher in the era of wearables. If Fitbit grows into a greater platform—perhaps one in which there is a third-party widget or app marketplace—we could see the emergence of entirely new markets. Apple’s much-hyped smartwatch will be unveiled in 2015, expected to have some of the same features and functionality as Fitbit, so the marketplace will be watching how Fitbit positions itself to offer differentiated value.

While the evidence suggests that there are huge opportunities on the horizon for these three apps, there are thousands of emerging apps with compelling signs of growth both here in the US and abroad. If there are specific apps or market segments that interest you, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you with specific historical and up-to-the-minute intelligence.

Stay tuned for our next post, which will look at the top mobile trends to watch in 2015.

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