The 50 fastest growing apps on Android right now

Using statistics from SurveyMonkey Intelligence, we’ve identified the 50 fastest growing apps on Android smartphones in the U.S. mobile app market.

In this post, we’re specifically measuring growth in terms of monthly active users added between late September and late October of 2016.

While our mobile app data at SurveyMonkey Intelligence includes usage of both iOS and Android apps on smartphones in the U.S., today we’re focusing exclusively on the Android apps that have enjoyed the biggest boost in popularity over the past month.

Examining these popular apps can reveal to app developers the latest best practices in user acquisition in growth… and–as you’ll see later in the post–the critical importance of user retention.

The top 50 fastest growing apps on Android

Fastest growing apps on Android

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While a Shopping app claimed the number one spot, Shopping apps in general ranked behind Tools & Utilities and Games in terms of the number of mobile apps representing each app store category on the list.

Fastest growing apps by category

While the mobile games category is increasingly competitive and dominated by the top mobile game publishers, a breakout hit game from an independent developer can still find explosive growth.

Wish: The #1 fastest growing mobile app on Android

Bargain-shopping app Wish gained about 1.8 million monthly active users (MAU) from late September to late October–a 19% gain in users–making it the fastest-growing app on Android in terms of absolute number of users added during the period.

Here’s how Wish stacks up against the rest of the top five fastest growing apps on Android:

  1. Wish: +1.80 million MAU (+19%)
  2. Antivirus, Booster & Cleaner: +1.48 million MAU (+11%)
  3. letgo: +1.26 million MAU (+17%)
  4. Artisto: +1.16 million MAU (+3,632%)
  5. Postmates: +0.90 million MAU (+255%)

Interestingly, this bump in Wish’s popularity apparently corresponds with ContextLogic–the app developer behind Wish–seeking another $500 million in investment funds.

While Wish has been enjoying consistent growth for quite a while, a distinct acceleration in usage began around early October:

Wish app users

A cynical person might suggest that ContextLogic increased its already-considerable spending on Facebook Ads to juice user acquisition during this period to make their growth numbers look particularly impressive to investors.

ContextLogic was the only developer to have two apps in the top 50 fastest growing apps on Android for October. Their other app, Geek – Smarter Shopping (a bargain-deals e-commerce app in the tech product niche) added 318 thousand users in this period (+11%).

(There are three (quite prolific) utility app developers in the list whose names look very similar, but they appear to be separate entities: GO Dev Team, GO Dev Team+, and GO Dev Team X.)

The high-growth apps most (and least) likely to stick around

Of the 50 fastest growing apps on Android in October, five apps demonstrated weekly user retention (i.e., the rate at which the users who use an app in one week return to use the app in the following week) of greater than 85%.

We can expect to see these apps do a great job keeping most of the many users who have adopted (or re-adopted) the apps during October.

Fronto sees over 90% of its users returning from week to week, which isn’t terribly surprising given its placement on the smartphone lock screen.

SuperCell’s latest hit game, Clash Royale, has the second-highest weekly retention rate among these high-growth apps; a very impressive 88.1%. SuperCell clearly continues to perfect its user engagement and retention strategies.

High growth app retention

On the other side of the retention spectrum, five of the fastest-growing Android apps have weekly retention rates of 40% or below.

Among these five, Artisto’s story stands out as especially dramatic: Having launched on iOS and Android on July 29 of this year, Artisto grew quite slowly in the U.S. for its first couple of months; by the middle of September, it had around 20 thousand monthly active users on Android smartphones.

Then, in October, the app’s popularity exploded, with MAU peaking at around 1.25 million users in the beginning of November.

As noted above, Artisto grew its monthly user base by over 3,600% from September to October, which–in percentage terms–far surpasses the growth of any other mobile app during this same period.

But now Artisto has the 4th-worst weekly retention rate (36.3%) among the top 50 fastest growing apps. (Postmates has the worst with 25.9%.)

And you can see the effect of that low retention rate on Artisto’s weekly active users (WAU):

Artisto app users

The app has already fallen from a peak of 740 thousand weekly active users in late October to a WAU of less than half that number less than three weeks later.

That’s some explosive growth followed by a swift fall back down to earth. (Though many apps would be very happy with hundreds of thousands of weekly active users.)

Conclusion

Artisto points to an important lesson in tracking the app market: don’t get too caught up in the hype of the fastest growing apps.

If a high-growth mobile app can’t keep its users around, its popularity can decline just as quickly as it grew.