Social and messaging apps are exploding. Social networks on desktop web have proven to hard to dislodge, but a deluge of messaging apps - essentially fancier features for the text messaging use case - appear to build up many distinct networks around the world. WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber have all become household names of sorts.
The social app’s forte is, generally speaking, network effects. They’re all useless on their own unless people you’d like to talk to are in on the deal. These effects are strong enough to shore up a business from competition, keep entrants out of the markets, and keep your users around longer than most developers dream of.
What are people actually using, and more interestingly, what do people enjoy using? We asked ourselves this question a few weeks back and started dissecting the data from apptrace. Using the store’s own “Social” category, and pulled out the ten top ranks from the top lists in each country. To add a truly qualitative dimension, we then sorted the list by average ranking and mapped out the top 3 worldwide.
Let’s scratch the surface a little here:
- Pinterest and WhatsApp the uncontested strong man of the space;
- Upstart Kik snagging strong market shares in smaller Scandinavian markets, as well as in the Netherlands - and ranking in the top 10 in six of the countries we looked at;
- iOS App Store hosts more successful upstarts, where Google Play tends toward a ‘big four’ type of arrangement.
On Android, we have an interesting contender from the East, the idiosyncratically named fqrouter2, designed to circumvent blockades of social media that have become increasingly common in certain markets
In Eastern markets such as Japan, India or China, we also noted that volatility in the rankings - the degree to which apps have a tendency to jump up and down top lists from day to day - is considerably higher than in Western markets.
The Facebook Messenger app didn’t do quite as well in the rankings, but it consistently did better than the core Facebook app. Foursquare isn’t picking up quite as much steam with Swarm, but there could be a case for Facebook’s decision to split the two. The Messenger app also showcases the largest divide we found between countries, ranking a solid 4.54 in Russia but merely 2.48 in the apparently disgruntled UK.