The Emerging Importance of Lite Apps, According to Fastest Growing Apps Platform

In today’s evolving app marketplace, new trends unfold at the drop of a hat. Keeping tabs on these trends and acting on emerging insights is both complex and challenging. Running your business requires up-to-date knowledge of the industry and where it’s headed, making it imperative to utilize tools which provide you with the information you need to better prepare for industry shifts and to understand how your apps will need to evolve with these changes.
Using Fastest Growing Apps, ironSource's free app insights tool, developers can quickly understand app market trends by identifying the categories and apps with the quickest acceleration of growth. The platform, which is updated monthly, is designed to function as a very specific tool to help developers and indie studios pinpoint areas of opportunity in the market by focusing on the categories and apps which are seeing the most rapid growth.

This quarter’s insights include a number of surprising changes within the industry. From the increasing frequency of Lite apps to growth trends for the shopping category, these are the industry changes to keep your eye on when approaching how to build your next app or market your current one:

Fastest growing app categories (July - Dec 2015)

ironSource Fastest Growing Apps - Q4 2015

Over the last six months, the Shopping app category has risen steadily, peaking at #3 fastest growing app category this holiday season. This can be attributed to the surge of retail-oriented shopping events such as Cyber Monday and China's Singles Day.

Photography apps have maintained a high rate of growth. with big-time players Facebook and Instagram releasing their photo-sharing apps, Moments and Layout, respectively. As expected, gaming has held steadfast as the number one fastest growing category throughout the quarter.

The emergence of Lite Apps

Q4 (October - December 2015) insights showed the increasing popularity of Lite Apps across a wide variety of categories. Following Facebook’s launch of Facebook Lite in early 2015, more important players have joined the trend by creating Lite versions of their existing apps, designed for 2G networks and areas with limited network connectivity. 

This past July, Line launched a “lighter” version for its messaging app Line Lite, which is popular in third tier countries and has been seeing rapid growth since September. In November of this quarter, an additional big-time player joined the Lite apps arena - Cheetah Mobile. The company launched a Lite version of Clean Master - Clean Master Lite - which is specifically designed for phones with less than 1 GB of memory and a small installation package size of only 3.61 MB. The app, which is popular in emerging countries such as India, was December’s #6 fastest growing app in the 500K-1M download range, more than doubling in downloads last month.

Google Trends confirms ironSource’s findings, with an increase in searches for the term ‘Lite apps’ in Google search worldwide, indicating increased interest in the subject over time.


With massive populations and smartphone adoption at an all-time high,
the increase of Lite apps being developed by important players in the app industry is a clear identifier that this is a growing field with huge opportunity and the potential to become a key factor in successfully accessing emerging markets.

The rise of games inspired by TV shows & films

As evidenced by the increase in brand-driven gaming apps this quarter, apps based on a show or film have seen some major success, particularly when released in conjunction with the release of the TV show or film.

Of course, timing is everything when tackling this rising trend, with apps such as Minions, the Walking Dead, Good Dinosaur, and Star Wars, all of which were among the fastest growing this quarter, seeing exponential growth in their downloads when released during the respective film or show’s premiere.

The popularity of shopping apps

At the category level, data compiled by Fastest Growing Apps over the past quarter shows that Shopping apps have consistently been one of the top three fastest growing categories, led by the recent success of apps such Wish (Wish is #7 in Dec., 50-100M), Amazon and AliExpress. While this growth can be attributed to the recent holiday season surge and retail-oriented shopping events such as China’s Singles Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, with the flood of mobile retailer purchases made during the holiday season, many apps in the Shopping category also tend to increase their UA budget in order to focus on pre-acquisition ahead of the holiday season.


Insights for ironSource’s Fastest Growing Apps tool are generated by an algorithm which analyzes the average growth of app categories and applications in the Google Play Store above 500K downloads. The algorithm takes into account the possibility of exceptional growth from a singular app and discards these outliers in order to prevent a biased outcome. The data, which is updated monthly, shows which applications are topping each Google Play download range by average growth in downloads. This way, each app developer can see which apps are trending in his or her desired Google Play range and understand the growth of different subcategories.

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