Dissecting the Most Profitable iMessage Apps

Lately Apple has been on a roll with opening up new App Stores. It started with the Apple Watch in April of 2015, then the Apple TV App Store a few month later. Most recently, our attention has been focused on the iMessage App Store.

Unlike the Apple Watch and Apple TV, iMessage apps don’t require a new device. Instead, iMessage apps can be used on the device users already have and use often. To developers this means real revenue potential, but also a new set of competitors.

In this post we’ll dig into the Top 200 Grossing apps list to get a better understanding for what makes money on the iMessage App Store.

Stickers are what?

We polled our Twitter followers when the iMessage App Store had just opened, to see how they felt about it and whether they’re already capitalizing on this new distribution channel. It might just be our followers, but it looks like most developers weren’t really jumping up with excitement at the thought of iMessage apps — Sticker packs in particular.

Top Grossing: Stickers vs. Apps

iMessage App Store. November 2016

Well, boy were they wrong. Looking at our data, the 57% of responders who thought stickers were silly really misread the mark. Today, 78% of the most profitable apps are sticker packs. That’s 156 apps out of the 200 we examined.

Top Grossing Apps by Category

iMessage App Store. November 2016

Sticker packs are leading the charge in the new iMessage App Store. Right now it feels like they are the iMessage App Store, and for good reason — Stickers fit perfectly into the context of messaging. 
 
That however doesn’t mean developers aren’t trying, some even successfully. 44 of the most profitable iMessage apps are not sticker packs. There are 19 Entertainment apps, 7 Sports apps, 6 Social networking apps, and 3 games.

That’s right. Only 3 games! 😱

That last bit came as somewhat of a surprise. In every other app store report we’ve done games reigned supreme. What does this mean? Right now, not much. With time we’ll see if developers can adjust to the new social-but-not-real-time nature of messaging games, or if games simply aren’t a good fit for the medium.

What Do They Cost?

Top Grossing Apps by Price

iMessage App Store. November 2016

When it comes to making money, users seem to be fine with paid apps. 👍 Unlike the iOS App Store, on the iMessage App Store only 7% of top grossing apps are free(mium). That’s just 13 apps!!!

The remaining 93% of apps (187, to be precise) cost between $0.99 and $4.99, with the majority (61%) having a price of $0.99 and 36% having a price of $1.99. The remaining 4 apps split between the other price tiers. 

Monetizing upfront is great for developers because it’s simple and easy to implement, but it’s also a sign of a store that isn’t mature. If the iMessage App Store matures similarly to the iOS App Store—which is likely considering it’s the same audience and device—we’ll see a strong shift towards freemium. For now, developers should make the most out of it.

Who’s Making iMessage Apps?

No. of Top Grossing Apps per Developer

iMessage App Store. November 2016

148 developers are responsible for the top 200 grossing apps, and 84% of those developers have exactly one app in the top grossing list. Of the remaining 16%, most (~14%) have between 2 and 5 and the rest have between 6 and 10 top grossing apps. Disney is the only outlier here, with 14 top grossing iMessage apps.

The top 5 developers by number of apps are:

  • Disney: 14 apps
  • Swyft Media Inc.: 8 apps
  • MLB.com: 7 apps 
  • Bare Tree Media Inc: 5 apps
  • First Draft Interactive Limited: 4 apps

In conclusion

  • The iMessage App Store brings a unique advantage to apps that can support this new channel because it operates on a device hundreds of millions of users have and use on a daily basis. 
  • Most of the top grossing apps (by far) are paid stickers packs.
  • The average price of a top grossing sticker pack is $0.99
  • Developers of top grossing apps have just one app responsible for their success. Disney is an extreme outlier with 14 apps in the Top 200.

  • Sudeshna Chakraborty

    Useful informative article with lots of facts and statistics.Very beneficial for all mobile app development companies.