Analysis: Almost All Mobile Apps Gained at SXSW, but Data Shows There Were No Clear Winners

The field of mobile and social apps looking to breakout this week at SXSW was quite crowded. But it looks like almost everyone got a bump in active usage and downloads. Personally, I got pulled into eight GroupMe groups and found myself drifting back to Foursquare from Facebook Places. So New York — not Silicon Valley — won SXSW for me.

To get a more accurate picture of how SXSW impacted different apps, we pulled data on Facebook usage from AppData and looked at iOS app store rankings through AppAnnie and install numbers on Android Marketplace. Unlike many of the mobile games we cover, apps like Foursquare and Instagram are inherently social. They almost always have a strong Facebook integration so these numbers are a decent — if imperfect — proxy for growth.

When looking at the charts below, there are a few things to keep in mind. For some apps like Ditto, where is the no alternative to logging in with Facebook, these numbers actually measure total usage. But for others like Instagram, which only uses Facebook to find new friends, these numbers account for probably less than half of the apps’ total usage. How many people choose to log in with Facebook depends on how well the integration is designed.

The iOS app store rankings are based on pure downloads while Android shows installations (a better metric since it doesn’t count apps that have been downloaded and then later deleted). Android will show a range of installations (e.g. 10,000 to 50,000 or 10 million to 50 million), but not an exact number.

So this is an imperfect way of looking at app usage, but it’s better than reading press releases about downloads or registered users.

Group Messaging

Recently acquired by Facebook, Beluga still made a strong showing at SXSW, grabbing more than 16 thousand monthly active Facebook users during the past week. It also held its iOS app store ranking higher than much-hyped GroupMe through out the entire interactive part of the conference. While Facebook will keep the app alive, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Facebook launch its own standalone group messaging app in the next six months.

iOS App Store Ranking 10-Mar 11-Mar 12-Mar 13-Mar 14-Mar 15-Mar 16-Mar
Overall (U.S.) 672 549 647 777 687 622 533
Social Networking (U.S.) 45 34 35 41 37 35 33

Daily active users on Facebook: 7,583 (+1,703 last 7 days)
Monthly active users on Facebook: 79,907 (+16,062 last 7 days)
Installs on Android Marketplace: Between 100,000 and 500,000

Ironically, we can’t really track the app that I seemed to be most dependent on at SXSW. Because it uses phone numbers and Twilio’s API to seed its userbase, it is difficult to get a handle on GroupMe’s daily and monthly active usage. GroupMe has a Facebook integration, but it’s buried three clicks into the app so that metric isn’t going to be very accurate.

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