We’ve all heard tales of apps that come from nowhere to make their creators millions. Many of them are a flash in the pan and drop out of popularity just as quickly as they went viral. The developers probably get over the disappointment with the help of the wads of advertising cash or that generated through in-app purchases while the going was good. Sometimes it’s hard to see what was so special about a particular app that took off – an inspiration to many who think to themselves ‘I could do that’.
Most can’t, a very few do. What takes off can often be a mystery and the history of the latest technology in the world has always been littered with cases where two similar products arrived at around the same time with one going on to massive success while the other disappears, leaving little trace other than a Wikipedia footnote. But, if you do fancy turning your hand to trying to come up with a hugely profitable app, a good place to start the creation process is with a look at the most successful examples.
This week marked the 10th anniversary of Apple’s App Store. The late Steve Jobs is credited with turning Apple around from a struggling technology company with a questionable future into the biggest company in the world. But even he didn’t see everything. He initially resisted the App Store, which has gone on to become a very profitable unit and key revenue driver for Apple.
To mark the anniversary, App Annie, a data and market research company specialised in the apps sector, published a list of the 10 most profitable apps over the last decade.
Many in the West won’t even have heard of QQ but the Tencent-owned instant messaging app that is the market leader in China has been hugely profitable. Popularity doesn’t always translate in profitability but QQ is also the 10th most downloaded app of all time.
Another app that is big in China but less well known in Europe and the Americas is social media platform Kwai. A bit like Snapchat, Kwai is a platform users publish short videos on. It’s also part of the Tencent stable and has over 700 million users.
8) HBO Now
This one will be more familiar. An app-based content subscription service HBO Now is owned and operated by US cable operator and content producer HBO. It has 2 million US subscribers.
Don’t ask us how to pronounce it but iQIiyi is an app owned by Baidu, Chinese equivalent of Google, and compiles online pursuits such as social networking, videos, games, reading and shopping in one place.
Another instant messaging app that is something like a cross between Skype and Whatsapp, Line is run by the Japanese subsidiary of South Korean search giant Naver.
They say sex sell and that obviously also holds true when it comes to apps. Or at least the prospect of it. Tinder is a popular dating app that allows users to like photos of users they find attractive, reject those they don’t and chat with other users who have also approved their photo.
4) Tencent Video
See HBO Go but in China. Enough said except to add that it also has 43 million paying subscribers. 2 million doesn’t look so hot now HBO..
3) Pandora Radio
Similar to Spotify, Pandora Radio, which currently only operates in the USA, is a freemium music streaming service with a subscription-based upgrade. The company recently announced a partnership with Snapchat owner Snap.
Pandora Radio’s more established rival, the music streaming app has successfully expanded internationally over recent years.
So, finally, the most profitable app ever is Netflix’s app. Like HBO Go and Tencent Video, there could be some argument around whether this is really a hugely profitable app or an app add-on to a hugely profitable content provider. Nevertheless, Netflix leads the video streaming market and has developed into one of the most valuable companies in the world.