Welcome to another installment of our Pulse on Current App Trends report! Every month we round up the most impactful data on app trends to help you better market your app. In this report we’re reviewing Disney+ downloads on Star Wars Day and the current rates of iOS14.5 adoption and beyond.
Disney+ Downloads Spike on May the Fourth
Coincident with “Star Wars Day,” also known as “May the Fourth,” Disney+ released Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The new animated series stars an elite team of clones.
Historically, Star Wars apps and mobile games see a spike in engagement on or around May 4. Last year on May 4, 2020, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga saw a spike of over 14,000 downloads. This was notable given the average 1,400 daily downloads the app drove the week prior. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also saw a 190% increase in downloads. Finally Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes saw the most downloads on May 4 than any other day over the course of two months.
Source: App Annie
Disney+ has tried to capitalize on the Star Wars Day trend before. For example in 2020, Disney+ debuted an eight-episode docuseries with behind-the-scenes footage from popular series, The Mandalorian.
The release of Star Wars: the Bad Batch drove over 267,000 downloads worldwide on May 5. This was the highest number of daily downloads the Disney+ app saw overall in May. The strategic next step would be for Disney+ to invest in retargeting to maintain new users gained on May 4.
May 2021 Downloads: Disney+ App
iOS 14.5 Update
After a year of anticipation and delays, Apple finally released iOS14.5 on April 27, 2021. This much awaited (and feared) release included the launch of their App Tracking Transparency feature to handle and track opt-in from users for IDFA-tracking.
Relative to past iOS update rollouts, the adoption rate of iOS14.5 was surprisingly low.
Source: Branch Metrics
By the end of May when Apple released version 14.6, 14.5 adoption had stalled at 17% globally. For comparison: 4 weeks after the release of 14.4.2, adoption was at nearly 70% globally.
Unlike previous updates, Apple did not trigger a system notification for users that a new version of iOS was available. This would have pushed more users to implement the update, resulting in the adoption curves with inflection points shown on previous releases on Branch’s graphic.
Also interesting is the comparative release of 14.6, which was much more aggressive than Apple’s approach to 14.5. Stay tuned for our review of the roll out of iOS 14.6 in our June app trends report.
The Implications of Apple’s Slow Roll Out of iOS 14.5
There have been many hypotheses for why Apple slowly rolled out it’s iOS 14.5 update. One is that if iOS 14.5 adoption was pushed at the same pace as previous releases, it would cause havoc to the app ecosystem for advertisers and publishers, as the new ATT framework is - arguably - the most impactful change to the mobile app ecosystem since the launch of the App Store.
To mitigate this, Apple slowly rolled out the release, spreading out its effect over time so the industry had time to react, change, and adapt. This had a coinciding positive effect of keeping Apple out of news headlines for its own strategic moves to create its own ad network.
Ad Spend & Downloads: iOS vs. Android
As of the beginning of June, global iOS ad spend was down and Android ad spend was up.
It’s still early days in this new era of Apple’s privacy changes, so the drop in spend on iOS could be due to degraded measurability (traditional digital user acquisition channels have lost some degree of measurability in the wake of iOS 14.5). Other causes of this drop could be the migration of ad spend from iOS to Android or to other non app-to-app marketing channels altogether.
Also down are installs on iOS as a percentage of global installs. Concurrently, installs on Android globally are up. This rise in Android activity could indicate that ad spend is, in fact, shifting from iOS to Android. In February of 2021, iOS installs were 23-25% of all app installs. As of the end of May that number had shifted to 21.9%. Android’s concurrent rise, on the other hand, has been from 74.6% to 78.1%. This represents a small but significant change.
Most Downloaded Non-Gaming Apps
In May 2021, TikTok remained the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide with more than 80 million installs. Brazil drove the largest amount of installs (16%). Brazil was followed by China, which drove 12% of installs.
Facebook was the second most installed non-gaming app with more than 53 million installs. The countries with the largest number of Facebook installs were India at 27%, followed by the United States at 7%.
Source: Sensor Tower
Most Downloaded Gaming Apps
Hair Challenge from Zynga was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in May with 36.5 million installs. India drove the most installs at 22.4% of total downloads. Brazil came in second at 7.5%.
Hair Challenge’s popularity along with other Top 10 most downloaded game apps such as High Heels, also from Zynga, and Makeover Run from Moonee, reflects the continued rise of the fashion games genre.
Bridge Race from Supersonic Studios was the second most installed mobile game with 32.3 million installs. India drove the most installs at 18.5% followed by Brazil at 8%.
Source: Sensor Tower
May 2021 saw the rise of Disney+ downloads on May the Fourth, the slow roll out of iOS14.5 and changes in ad spend and downloads across iOS and Android devices.
- The release of Star Wars: the Bad Batch on Star Wars Day drove over 267,000 downloads worldwide. This was the highest number of daily downloads the Disney+ app saw overall in May.
- Relative to past iOS update rollouts, the adoption rate of iOS14.5 was surprisingly low. As of iOS14.6’s release, global adoption of iOS 14.5 was just under 20%.
- Since iOS 14.5’s release, ad spend and downloads are down on iOS and up on Android, indicating that spend could be moving from iOS to Android in the face of IDFA tracking changes.
- In May 2021, TikTok remained the most-downloaded non-gaming app. Facebook came in second.
- Hair Challenge was the most-downloaded game app this month, highlighting the rise in popularity of apps in the fashion game genre. Bridge Race was the second most-downloaded game app.