Welcome back to This Week in Apps, a TechCrunch series that highlights the most recent developments in mobile OS news, mobile apps, and the app ecosystem as a whole.
The first half of 2022 saw a small increase in global app expenditure to $65 billion from $64.4 billion in the same period of 2021, as the pandemic-fueled hypergrowth abated. However, generally, the app economy is still expanding. According to the most recent year-end figures, the combined iOS and Google Play stores saw a record amount of downloads and consumer expenditure in 2021. Consumers downloaded 143.6 billion applications last year, spending $133 billion worldwide between iOS and Google Play.
With the most recent information from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more, This Week in Apps provides a means to keep up with this rapidly changing business in one location.
The leading social networks of today are losing ground with the younger internet users. We examined how Facebook, one of the biggest social networks in the world, had started to lose its appeal last month. As a result, it was losing ground to other applications like BeReal and TikTok in the Top Charts of the App Store. But many app developers still appear to believe that trying to compete in the social space is a hopeless cause.That is no longer always the case. There is opportunity for other applications to develop outside of TikTok, which is now perceived as more of an entertainment platform than a way to interact with close friends, much as Instagram flourished beneath Facebook’s shadow (though TikTok is pushing to change that).
The success of BeReal is evidence that alternative networks that emphasise genuine friendships may still gain users. Younger people are actually desperate for a space where they can be themselves and keep up with their pals without being exposed to creative material and tailored advertisements.
BeReal has established itself as a leader in the Top Five of the App Store and, at times, is the top app in all of the world’s markets, but long-term success is not yet guaranteed. That’s a solid start, but BeReal is having trouble communicating with both its own users and the general public and hasn’t figured out how to monetize its company, for example.
For instance, the firm vaguely tweeted a comment last week after the app went down, “yup, we’re on it,” basically keeping its user base in the dark about what was happening. Comparatively, Instagram clarified that it recognised the problem the day after a shorter, partial outage by stating that some users were “having difficulties accessing Instagram,” and that it was trying to address the issue as soon as possible. It also advised users to remain tuned. To make its post more visible, it also included the hashtag #instagramdown.
For an app in its position, the firm is acting inappropriately. Social media posts may occasionally be funny and cheeky, but not when there are outages or other major platform concerns. For the time being, users will overlook BeReal’s error. The team’s failure to connect with its own consumers and the media, though, might become a bigger issue as the business grows.
BeReal has only ever provided chosen media with off-the-record briefings. It lacks an internal communications staff. It doesn’t blog or pitch to keep its users informed. Even useless release notes are not posted on the App Store.
Release notes for the App Store – incredibly useful! Images courtesy of BeReal
Additionally, BeReal was unable to answer to a number of straightforward inquiries on the nature and scope of their outage. How the business will respond to a more serious crisis, such as a hack, data leak, or similar incident involving malicious users on its network, is raised by this. For the time being, it can get away with it, but not long. BeReal has so far failed to live up to the expectations that came with becoming Gen Z’s favourite social app and holding the top place on the App Store.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is not some scrappy software developer bribing college students to download its latest gadget. The firm was valued pre-money at $600+ million after raising a $30 million Series A round from investors headed by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel, followed by a Series B round from DST Global. The moment has come for BeReal to mature.
However, BeReal’s mistakes could make it easier for additional social app startups to enter the market and provide services that aren’t just gimmicky.
For what it’s worth, TikTok has recognised there is still a tonne of untapped market potential. Over the past weekend, it released TikTok Now, a blatant BeReal ripoff, as a stand-alone app in international regions outside of the United States. Within about a day, the new app gained considerable popularity and entered the Top 500 social applications on the iPhone in 38 markets and the Top 100 in five. A few days later, it had a Top 10 social app ranking in 39 countries and a Top 100 ranking in 24. Additionally, it essentially offers users a TikTok-produced BeReal format with extra functionality for video. (And perhaps less hideous selfies?)
YouTube is no longer playing around. It is addressing the danger posed by TikTok in a way that not only strengthens its position as a competitor in the short-form video industry but also enables it to increase its ad load across a new surface. This Monday, the business disclosed that producers of Shorts will now be eligible for its updated YouTube Partner Program, which enables them to profit from YouTube ads.
For long-form video, the current Partner Program needs YouTubers to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 view hours. It won’t alter. But beginning in early 2023, artists who fulfil a new Shorts-specific requirement of 1,000 subscribers and 10 million Shorts views over a 90-day period will be eligible to apply to the programme. These producers will get 45% of the money made from their films’ advertisements as Partner Program participants. (Ads will be interspersed with the shorts, and the money is gathered.) 45% of the money that is given to the creators—not to licensing—goes to them. However, some authors don’t consider that to be very much.
The modifications are intended to support artists who are gaining popularity or going viral on Shorts, whether they are using their own original content or video clips from other people’s videos (which is totally okay with YouTube).
YouTube also offered Creator Music, an online tool where producers may select music for their videos by evaluating the fees involved with licencing particular songs or they can explore songs they can use without paying upfront. This served to sweeten the deal even further. The latter allows users to opt into a revenue split with owners of the music rights.
Spotify gets into audiobooks
Spotify debuted its first audiobook portfolio in the United States on Tuesday, with about 300,000 titles to start. Spotify believes that audiobooks might be its next significant source of revenue. The choices in the app will first be suggested by Spotify editors. But over time, the business claims, it hopes to broaden the appeal of audiobooks, increase its inventory, and start recommending books to customers based on algorithms, much as it does with its other audio formats.
The business had earlier cited studies showing that the audiobook market is anticipated to increase from $3.3 billion in 2020 to $15 billion in 2027. It predicted that the gross margin on its audiobook sales may exceed 40%.
The books can be discovered in the app’s new Audiobooks hub and are available for à la carte, variable-priced purchase. Spotify hopes this will help unknown authors gain exposure. They are also not being sold through in-app purchases, which is notable.
Instead, the app provides free book excerpts, but customers must go to Spotify’s website to make their purchases. The acquired audiobook will then be unlocked in the application and added to the user’s library.
It’s important to note that Spotify’s ability to avoid in-app purchases on iOS comes as a result of a change in Apple’s policy that was revealed back in March and targeted “reader” applications, or those created to give users access to digital content like music, books, films, or magazines. Apple stated that these apps may now make use of external connections if authorised. Spotify was Google’s first customer when it started testing third-party billing earlier this year.