Each month, Verto Analytics produces the Verto Index, a ranking of the top performers in a selected app, services, device, or technology sector. In 2016, we looked at everything from mobile devices to news apps, and we’re highlighting the Top 10 properties of selected categories in our Year in Charts. To round off the year, here are some of the biggest market leaders and disruptors of the year among U.S. adults (ages 18 and above). And check our Verto Index page if you’re interested in the full rundown of any of the following charts.
Travel Apps and Sites: May
Back in May, we wondered if Airbnb was on its way to becoming the next big lifestyle brand. Seven months ago, Airbnb’s CMO declared his ambitions to become “a community-driven superbrand,” driven by user-generated content. Is this the company’s strategy to send user engagement through the roof? Airbnb was already the second-stickiest travel property in the Verto Travel Apps/Sites Index, and it’s also rumored to be preparing for a 2017 IPO. With the November launch of Trips, their new experiences and recommendations feature, and flight booking capabilities on the horizon, the company is clearly looking to take on some of the biggest names in travel – including TripAdvisor, the #1-ranked travel app on our Index.
Our Mobile Games Index was published in June – and we inadvertently created a snapshot of the ecosystem just before the release of the biggest disruptor of the year. Pokémon GO launched on July 6 in the U.S., and has remained at the top of our mobile games ranking ever since, surpassing Words With Friends and Candy Crush. Before Pokémon GO hit the app store, none of the major console makers or incumbent video game manufacturers made it into the Top 10 on the Verto Mobile Games Index. In fact, only EA (at 13) and Microsoft (at 19) even made it on the board – Nintendo, Playstation, and Sony weren’t even on the charts. The runaway success of Pokémon GO is bound to be a model for mobile game publishers around the world, and showed off the appeal of AR-laced mobile games. But user retention continues to plague Pokémon GO and the mobile gaming industry at large – how much longer can Pikachu and friends remain at the top of the charts when it comes to both user numbers and user engagement? And what’s the next big thing to hit the mobile games market?
The digital media industry continues to be a tough market marked by shutdowns, splits, and mergers. In August alone (the month we published the News Index), Gawker shut down after a heavily-publicized legal battle with Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan and Arianna Huffington stepped down from her eponymous news site eleven years after founding it. And in October, AT&T announced plans to buy Time Warner for a record $109 billion, which would create a media, telecom, and distribution giant. It also means that CNN, the top property on our Index, will soon be owned by AT&T – followed by the Huffington Post, now owned by AT&T’s rival, Verizon. This continued consolidation among telecom and media companies could spell even more trouble for online news publishers, as startups and independents increasingly must contend with corporate behemoths.
Social media is now a core part of the consumer internet – in fact, the average American user spends about 40% of their time online on social media, and Americans collectively spend more than 5 billion hours a month on social media apps (that doesn’t even include the time we spend on social media through desktop or laptop PCs). Continued consolidation among social media properties means that Facebook and Google have an outsize influence in this sector. But all eyes seem to be on Snap (the player formerly known as Snapchat), which is heading towards a much-hyped IPO in 2017. While Snapchat didn’t make it onto the Top 10, a closer look reveals it’s at #14, and its 48% stickiness rating outshines everyone else except Facebook. As user engagement becomes increasingly important to social media platforms – and the publishers and advertisers they sell to – Snapchat’s small but sticky user base could prove to be a good investment.
In October, we took a look at the crowded fitness wearables and app ecosystem – a space dominated by Fitbit, which claimed nearly 21 million users and the highest stickiness ranking (Verto’s stickiness compares daily users to monthly users to quantify the most engaged users). Two months later, Fitbit just announced plans to acquire Pebble, one of its competitors. Does this signal a greater consolidation in the wearables space? And can the wearables market continue to develop alongside health and fitness apps that integrate with a user’s existing smartphone?
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