Market Data

App Annie Index: There's Something About LINE


In this month's App Annie Index, we focus on the top Publishers and Apps in the iOS and Google Play stores. Looking back at November 2012 data, many interesting stories are emerging in the app economy today.

This month’s headline is NHN’s success with its messaging app LINE. As competition amongst third-party messaging apps heats up worldwide, LINE is gaining significant momentum. According to App Annie Intelligence, our premium market data product, NHN and LINE are in a good positions on the Publisher and Apps leaderboards, appearing in 5 out of the 8 charts we analyze in this month’s App Annie Index.

LINE, developed by NHN subsidiary NHN Japan, stands out from competitors in a number of ways.  Unlike WhatsApp, LINE is a free download that generates revenue through chat “stickers”, which are essentially big emoticons. Tencent’s WeChat has strong, stable downloads, but has not yet started monetizing directly from the app store.  The messaging competition in Asia is especially fierce, with competitors KakaoTalk and DeNA’s Comm are using strategies similar to LINE. Gaming powerhouse GREE also recently launched GREE messenger, throwing its hat into the ring.

As the year draws to a close, we have seen a number of strong competitors enter this space. In 2013, it will be interesting to see how LINE's strategy plays out.

Publisher Index

Top Publishers by Monthly DownloadsiOS November 2012

Publisher Rank Change Category HQ Country # of Apps
1 Apple - Various USA 19
2 Google - Various USA 25
3 Electronic Arts - Games USA 969
4 Gameloft - Games France 260
5 Rovio 2 Games Finland 24
6 Facebook 6 Various USA 5
7 Disney 1 Various USA 193
8 NHN 18 Various South Korea 162
9 Tencent 5 Games China 95
10 Outfit7 4 Games Israel 58
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

The momentum of LINE is fueling NHN’s success, as the company jumped 18 spots in this month’s Publisher Index. As the company’s international expansion pits it against popular messaging services WhatsApp and Tencent’s WeChat, NHN is holding its own. NHN surely has the momentum, as they are ranked one spot above Tencent in our monthly download iOS index and far above WhatsApp, who is ranked at 78.

Rovio is boosted by paid apps Angry Birds Star Wars for iPhone and Angry Birds Star Wars HD for iPad, which both launched November 8.

Publisher Index
These tables chart the top ten publishers worldwide, ranked by the downloads or revenues that they generate across all their apps for the month of November 2012, as estimated by App Annie Intelligence. We have grouped together parent publishers (i.e. Instagram’s downloads would be included under Facebook; NAVER Japan’s downloads would be under NHN) to give a more accurate business view. The ‘Rank Change’ refers to the movement within this ranking compared to the previous month. And we define ‘category’ as the category that the publisher publishes under (for publishers whose apps are in many categories, we’ve defined this as ‘Various’).


Top Publishers by Monthly DownloadsGoogle Play November 2012

Publisher Rank Change Category HQ Country # of Apps
1 Facebook 1 Various USA 3
2 Rovio 1 Games Finland 13
3 Google 2 Various USA 58
4 NHN 2 Various South Korea 169
5 GO Launcher 1 Tools China 263
6 WhatsApp 4 Social Networking USA 2
7 Microsoft 2 Various USA 25
8 Outfit 7 3 Entertainment Cyprus 27
9 Adobe Systems 1 Photography USA 19
10 Fingersoft 13 Games Finland 8
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

NHN is also enjoying similar success in Google Play thanks to the LINE brand, rising 2 spots. We also see LINE’s direct competitor, WhatsApp, moving up the charts.

Successful launches played an important role in shaping the Google Play download top charts. Rovio’s upward movement is again driven by the early November release of Angry Birds Star Wars, which quickly became the #1 game in many countries. Fingersoft joins the top 10 on the strength of Hill Climb Racing, which became an international hit after its early November launch.


Top Publishers by Monthly RevenuesiOS November 2012

Publisher Rank Change Category HQ Country # of Apps
1 Supercell 1 Games Finland 2
2 Electronic Arts 1 Games USA 969
3 GREE 7 Games Japan 108
4 Rovio 8 Games Finland 24
5 Gameloft 1 Games France 260
6 Zynga 3 Games USA 58
7 Kabam 2 Games USA 5
8 Apple 3 Various USA 19
9 Storm8 2 Games USA 40
10 CyberAgent 6 Games Japan 93
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

The big news in iOS revenues is Supercell passing Electronic Arts for the pole position in November 2012 monthly revenues. With only two games, Clash of Clans and Hay Day, the Finnish gaming company is competing with the biggest names in the business. The company’s emphasis on creating high-quality user experiences is paying off, as the company is monetizing users at an extremely high rate.  Their top ranking in iOS revenues is more impressive when one considers they do not appear in the top 10 downloads in the same month.

As we saw last month, gaming continues to be the highest grossing category. Angry Birds Star Wars produces the biggest gain on the chart, lifting Rovio 8 spots.


Top Publishers by Monthly Revenues Google Play November 2012

Publisher Rank Change Category HQ Country # of Apps
1 GREE - Games Japan 115
2 NHN 3 Various South Korea 169
3 DeNA 1 Games Japan 171
4 COLOPL 1 Games Japan 38
5 GungHo Online 1 Games Japan 13
6 Com2uS 8 Games South Korea 77
7 Zynga - Games USA 20
8 Ateam 4 Games Japan 137
9 GAMEVIL 1 Games South Korea 80
10 NextFloor - Games South Korea 1
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

NHN once again turns heads, leapfrogging three spots to take second place behind GREE.

Japanese and South Korean publishers continue to dominate the Google Play revenues charts. Among these, NextFloor is one to watch as they remain in the top 10 despite only having one app, DragonFlight for Kakao.

Com2uS enjoys a lift into the top 10 based on strong, consistent monetization, particularly from Tiny Farm and 말랑말랑 목장 for Kakao.


App Index

Top Game Apps by Monthly RevenuesiOS November 2012

Game Rank Change Publisher HQ Country Subcategory
1 Clash of Clans - Supercell Finland Strategy
2 Hay Day 2 Supercell Finland Simulation
3 The Simpsons™: Tapped Out 1 Electronic Arts USA Simulation
4 Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle... 1 Kabam USA Simulation
5 Puzzle & Dragons 2 GungHo Online Japan Puzzle
6 Slotomania 1 Playtika Israel Card
7 Angry Birds Star Wars new Rovio Finland Arcade
8 CSR Racing - NaturalMotion UK Racing
9 Poker by Zynga - Zynga USA Card
10 Angry Birds Star Wars HD new Rovio Finland Arcade
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

With Clash of Clans and Hay Day, Supercell now owns the two highest grossing games on the iOS app store. As we saw in the Publisher Index, Supercell only needs these two games to compete with more prolific publishers such as Electronic Arts, Zynga and Rovio.

App Index
This monitors the top apps by monthly revenue in November 2012, as estimated by App Annie Intelligence data. We have separated game and non-game apps in order to understand the dynamics within both subsets.

Top Game Apps by Monthly Revenues Google Play November 2012

Game Rank Change Publisher HQ Country Subcategory
1 PUZZLE & DRAGONS - GungHo Online Japan Brain
2 DragonFlight for Kakao 1 NextFloor South Korea Arcade
3 GREE 1 GREE Japan Casual
4 暴走列伝 単車の虎 4 Donuts Japan Casual
5 秘宝探偵 (登録不要の無料本...) - COLOPL Japan Casual
6 プロ野球PRIDE (登録不要の無...) 6 COLOPL Japan Sports
7 아이러브커피 for Kakao - PATISTUDIO South Korea Casual
8 Dark Summoner (JP) 6 Ateam Japan Arcade
9 Anipang for Kakao 4 SUNDAYTOZ South Korea Brain
10 Rage of Bahamut new DeNA Japan Arcade
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

Google Play continues to trend more and more towards Asia, as all of this month’s highest-grossing games are published by Japanese and South Korean companies. The three South Korean apps are connected to social network Kakao, which shows the distribution power of its social graph.


Top Non-Game Apps  by Monthly Revenues iOS November 2012

App Rank Change Publisher HQ Country Subcategory
1 LINE 1 NHN South Korea Social Networking
2 Pages 1 Apple USA Productivity
3 Pandora Radio 2 Pandora Media USA Music
4 WhatsApp Messenger 1 WhatsApp USA Social Networking
5 Comics 1 comiXology USA Books
6 Zoosk 1 Zoosk USA Social Networking
7 Badoo 1 Badoo Software UK Social Networking
8 GarageBand 8 Apple USA Music
9 Keynote 1 Apple USA Productivity
10 Numbers 1 Apple USA Productivity
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

LINE takes the top spot from Pages and continues to be a winner for NHN. It’s also the lone Asian app in an otherwise very Western top 10 chart.

While there are four Social Networking apps in this list, it should be noted that Zoosk and Badoo are meant for dating while LINE and WhatsApp are for chatting with friends. Zoosk and Badoo continue to compete with one another, switching spots from last month.

We continue to see international growth from LINE, gaining momentum in markets such as South Asia, Latin America and the USA. As LINE revenues pull ahead of WhatsApp, it should be noted that LINE monetizes through in-app purchases, but WhatsApp currently does not.

With the addition of GarageBand to this chart, it’s worth noting that Apple now publishes four of the top 10 highest grossing non-game apps on iOS.


Top Non-Game Apps by Monthly RevenuesGoogle Play November 2012

App Rank Change Publisher HQ Country Subcategory
1 LINE - NHN (NAVER) South Korea Communication
2 SwiftKey 3 Keyboard - SwiftKey UK Productivity
3 ウイルスバスター™ モ... 5 トレンドマイクロ株式会社 Japan Tools
4 Poweramp Full Version... 1 Max MP USA Music and Audio
5 Comics 2 comiXology USA Comics
6 NBA Game Time 2012-13 new NBA Digital USA Sports
7 ASOBO 9 YOURNET.Inc Japan Social
8 Camera ZOOM FX 10 androidslide Australia Photography
9 ATOK (日本語入力システム) 6 JustSystems Japan Productivity
10 NAVIGON Europe 4 Garmin Germany Travel and Local
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™ December 2012

On Google Play, we see greater rank volatility along with a more pronounced international contingent. Again, we see LINE holding the top spot.

Shooting into the top 10 is NBA Game Time, a freemium app that helps NBA fans stay up-to-date on the basketball league. The iOS app has been out for years, with the Google Play version making its debut in last month. As seen in its iOS store stats grossing ranks chart, we can expect its revenues to predictably spike with the start of the NBA season each November.


Where does the data come from?

The App Annie Index™ leverages App Annie Intelligence, our premium product. App Annie Intelligence calculates accurate market estimates around the downloads and revenues of the entire app store ecosystem, broken down by store, country, publisher and app. The monthly ranks of the App Annie Index™ are based on these granular market estimates, allowing us to provide the app industry with a common methodology from which to see who are the top apps, publishers, countries and stores.

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Additional methodology notes

Readers of the November 2012 App Annie Index may notice some differences with publisher rankings this month. This is due to an update in the way we calculate publisher rankings. Within the app stores is a complex network of always-changing relationships between publishers and subsidiaries. In this month’s Index, we have consolidated those relationships to provide you with a complete picture of publisher rankings.

For example, last month’s Index had LINE listed under NAVER Japan - which is actually a subsidiary of South Korean firm NHN. Going forward, starting from this month’s Index, we consider LINE to be published by NHN. We will do the same for all other parent-subsidiary relationships.

Furthermore, in measuring publisher popularity, we are now counting paid and free downloads together. Last month’s Index only ranked publishers by free downloads. The reason for this change is to provide readers with a more complete picture of the app store economy.

Downloads: Downloads on app stores can be divided into free and paid downloads. For the purposes of this report, we use consolidated free and paid downloads numbers as a ranking metric. In doing so, we can provide a more complete view on what is popular on the market, regardless of business model.

Revenues: By revenues, we refer to what stores define as "grossing revenues". This includes all the revenues generated by the app through the store, including revenue both from the price to download an app, as well as any in-app purchases (including subscriptions). It should be noted that the revenues we track are the effective revenues that are generated from the point of view of the publisher and therefore the store’s 30% revenue cut is subtracted.

Categories and sub-categories: When tracking categories or sub-categories, we are directly using the categories as defined by the store, which are different between iOS and Google Play.

Countries: As with categories, we also use the countries as defined by the store, and analyze our data according to those country demarcations. As of writing, on iOS we are tracking 155 countries and on Google Play 44 countries or regional stores.
A previous version of this post incorrectly listed RenRen Games as the #6 Top Publisher by Monthly Downloads on iOS for November 2012. The table has been amended, with Outfit7 now added to the table in tenth place.

December 20, 2012

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