Top mobile app publishers right now: overall, fintech, games, music, and travel
Looking for the top mobile app publishers? I have one word for you: Google.
If you’re trying to find a list of the top app publishers on the planet, you might be thinking about the company behind TikTok, which of course is massive. Or you might be thinking about Meta, formerly Facebook, which puts out mega billion-user apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and — of course — the original Facebook app itself. Or top gaming companies like Epic or Take-Two or Electronic Arts.
And they’re huge.
But they all pale in comparison with Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google. Google is the true king of mobile, and not just on Android, which it largely controls. Even on iOS, Google is the top publisher by far, with almost 4X as many app installs as its nearest competitor.
Here’s an early 2023 snapshot of the top mobile app publishers.
While many won’t slide out of the top lists from week to week (Google, Meta, Amazon, Voodoo, Supersonic, I’m looking at you) some of the others will drop out or pop up, thanks to changing spend levels, new app launches, marketing bursts, and peaks or valleys in virality.
Top 15 mobile app publishers: overall
Based on Apptopia data, here are the top 15 mobile publishers on each major mobile platform in the United States by downloads in the last month.
Note: Meta (formerly Facebook) presents itself as 3 separate publishers: Meta, WhatsApp, and Instagram. I’ve combined them all together for a more realistic presentation of where Meta should sit with its big tech competitors. I’ve also combined ByteDance and TikTok, which also appear separately.
|Meta (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram)||Meta (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram)|
|ByteDance (including TikTok)||Voodoo|
|Voodoo||ByteDance (including TikTok)|
|Metro Trains Melbourne (think “Dumb Ways to …”)||Rollic Games|
|HOMA GAMES||Roadget Business|
Newcomers include Temu, with its hit app “Shop Like a Billionaire,” and SayGames, with apps like Race Master 3D and Color Page ASMR. Just missing the cut on iOS are companies like Electronic Arts, Square, DoorDash, and Adobe. Also just out of the picture on Android are app publishers like Uber, Snap, OutFit7 with it’s decade-long hit Subway Surfers, King, and Spotify.
One thing that really helps when you want to be a top global publisher is sheer number of apps: Google has 192 on Android, 131 on iOS. Disney has 164 on Android and an astounding 460 on iOS. Amazon has 72 on Android and another 66 on iOS, while Microsoft has 192 on Android and, as you might expect for a very precise, organized, and structured company, 192 on iOS.
TikTok and Meta are the outliers here with far fewer apps. But each of their apps have far more installs individually, of course.
Top 15 fintech app publishers
When you go from all apps overall to a specific category of apps, branded apps from a single company that typically has only one or a few apps start to appear higher in the rankings. Companies like PayPal, Square, Venmo, Capital One, or JPMorgan Chase dominate in fintech.
But Google is still king, even in finance, mostly due to apps like Google Wallet. Perhaps not shockingly, Google’s Wallet app operates much like Apple’s Wallet app, offering access to payment cards, passes, tickets, keys, and IDs.
Note: I’ve removed obvious insurance companies, as they’re not specifically fintech.
|Venmo||Early Warning Services (think Zelle)|
|Early Warning Services (think Zelle)||Capital One|
|JPMorgan Chase & Co||ADP|
|Credit Karma||Bank of America|
|Chime Financial||IRS (yes, that IRS)|
|Bank of America||JPMorgan Chase|
|Affirm, Inc.||Propel Inc|
Verizon looks like an odd entrant in the fintech sweepstakes, but it offers apps like Verizon Visa Card, and Verizon Family Money. Another odd-looking publisher is Early Warning Services … until you hear what app this publisher is famous for: Zelle, the money transfer app.
An important note:
You don’t see Apple here, but that is simply because the Apple Wallet app is pre-installed on iOS and therefore no-one needs to install it. It’s likely that Wallet would be at the top of the list on iOS if it were measured equally, even though it’s not an exclusively financial wallet.
Top 15 mobile game publishers
The top global mobile game publishers are Voodoo, Playrix, and Supersonic, though Playrix is much stronger on iOS than Android.
Newcomers include Casual Azur Games, which makes Worms Zone and Bottle Jump 3D, as well as Chess.com and ONESOFT GLOBAL, which makes 1945 Air Force and Space Shooter – Galaxy Attack.
Note that I’ve combined Zynga, Rollic and Take-Two for the purposes of this list.
|Supersonic||Casual Azur Games|
|Zynga (Zynga, Rollic Games, Take-Two Interactive)||HOMA Games|
|Metro Trains Melbourne||Crazy Labs|
|Popcore||Zynga (Zynga, Rollic Games, Take-Two Interactive)|
Voodoo is of course also massive, with titles like Helix Jump, Paper.io, Deliver It 3D, and — of course — recently scorching hot games like Tall Man Run and Going Balls.
It’s worth noting that Disney is just about the only old-school massive corporation that shows up on this list. Arguably Take-Two has almost gained that status. It is, after all, the third-largest publicly traded game company after Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts, worth about $13 billion. And it was founded 30 years ago, in 1992.
But other than that, almost all of the companies are relatively young: children of the digital age. (See also: the top 50 mobile games of 2023)
Top 15 mobile app publishers: music
You won’t see Apple on any top music apps downloads list, but that’s primarily because it literally comes with every single iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Apple sells. So … the smart money says that’s the top music app publisher on iOS, even though you can’t find that in Apptopia or Data.ai’s top downloads list.
Other than that, it’s pretty much the expected combatants: Google, Amazon, Spotify, and then a bunch of others fighting for share like Pandora, Soundcloud, iHeartMedia, and Smule.
Note: Due to pure personal bias I’ve removed beat creation and music creation apps from this list in favor of just pure music apps, at least as much as possible. (If I’ve missed anything, let me know!)
|Sirius XM||Harman Consumer|
|TelevisaUnivision Interactive||Super Music Player Downloader|
You will note that Apple hits the top list on Android, thanks to Apple Music. (For some reason Google doesn’t include the Apple Music app in a standard Android install. Why could that be???) Samsung and the Samsung Music app, however, has fallen out of the top list, as has Sony.
Interestingly, there are also publishers like Gototop which you might not recognize. Gototop offers an app called Feelsy that “will help you have stress relief and relax after a tiring day, fall asleep faster, or just beat boredom by playing with beautiful and soothing textures and patterns.” In other words, sort of ASMR+ music for chilling and falling asleep.
Top 15 travel app publishers
Did you know Universal Studios and Disney offer travel apps? They do … apps to complement their theme park destinations. There’s the expected: park maps and ride planning features, but there’s also restaurant reservations, hotel bookings. And maybe … someday … flight bookings as well?
But of course Google, with Maps and other apps, and the typical travel app bigwigs show up here: Uber, Lyft, VRBO, Airbnb.
|Hopper||NBC Universal (Universal Studios)|
|NBC Universal (Universal Studios)||Booking.com|
|American Airlines||United Airlines|
|Delta Airlines||Spirit Airlines|
|Southwest Airlines||Satellite World Maps|
A travel app with a big jump: Hopper.
Hopper, which offers flight, hotel, and car rental deals via its mobile app, showed up much lower and on only one of these lists last year. This year, Hopper appears to be investing heavily in growth and has propelled itself to a near top spot on both iOS and Android. Of course, dislodging Google and Disney is nearly impossible.
Top app publishers and the power laws of mobile
It’s important to remember that power laws apply to the top mobile app publisher lists. The top player in a category might generate as many app installs or game downloads as the next 5 combined. The top 3 generally will have more app installs than the next 12.
And it’s hard to get to the top.
The rewards for winning are great, but the challenge is immense, with most categories besides gaming being dominated by one or more members of the very small community of big tech companies … generally Google, Meta/Facebook, or Apple, with Amazon showing up as well. For some reason, gaming — though it follows its own internal power laws — is not dominated by the typical big tech companies. Gaming has developed its own giants, led by Take-Two, Voodoo, and Supersonic, and challenged by Disney and others.
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