In Apps, Frontpage Featured Content, Mobile, Research

By Hans Hartman – Market Researcher focused on the Mobile Photo and Video Markets


I often get asked how I keep track of all the photo and video apps that are on the market or are being introduced. My answer is twofold: first, I track a large number of news sites that cover promising new photo and video apps; second, every three months I diligently add or update the top-ranking photo apps listed in the US Google Play and Apple App stores inside my homegrown database.

And then I doodle with the rankings to see if I can find any interesting trends.

Let me share with you the takeaways of my latest doodling with the February 1 rankings of the top 100 photo apps, comprised of the top 20 paid, free, and grossing apps for iOS as well as Android.

[Some of the top grossing apps are also listed in the top paid or free app categories, hence there are fewer uniques than the theoretical maximum number of 120 apps. Although the data represent a snapshot in time and are limited to just the US stores, I do believe that most of the takeaways are also indicative of what’s happening in the global photo app market.]

Visual 1st presenters

First of all, I’m very pleased to report that 23% of the top-ranking photo app developers have previously made presentations at Visual 1st (Mobile Photo Connect), including the likes of Adobe, Cardinal Blue Software (Pic Collage), Lightricks, PicsArt, VSCO, GoPro, Magisto,Vicman (Photo Lab), Perfect Corp. (YouCam Makeup) and last year’s Visual 1st Awards winner, Photomyne.

[If you’ve never presented your app before or you’re planning to launch an innovative new app in the next few months, please drop me an email, as we’re very much on the lookout for innovative new apps to be presented at our upcoming conference, October 22-23!]

Photo app age

56% of the top-ranking photo apps are between 1 and 3 years old; another 27% are 3 years or older: 


No matter how that the app stores have increased exposure opportunities for new apps by offering editorial suggestions and options for advertising, existing top-ranking apps still benefit from… being top-ranking: success breeds success. The flipside: it is increasingly hard for newcomers to break into the top rankings, as is indicated by the fact that only 8% of the top-ranking apps are less than 6 months old.

[Scroll down for And a few more things…industry news highlights]

Although the first iterations of both the Google Play and Apple App stores started around the same time 10 years ago, on average the iOS top-ranking apps are older than the Android apps: 1702 days (4.7 years) for iOS vs. 1228 days (3.4 years) for Android:

We did not find statistically significant app age differences for paid vs. free top-ranking photo apps.


Photo app user ratings

When a developer boasts about their photo app’s user ratings, it’s useful to compare this number with the average ratings for the top-ranking photo apps.

So here they are: the average user rating of the top photo apps is 4.3; the median is 4.5.

50% have user ratings between 4.5 and 5.0. Another 9% have perfect scores, i.e. ratings of 5.0:

  • A Design Kit, by A Color Story LLC
  • The Photographer’s Ephemeris, by Crookneck Consulting LLC
  • Baby Pics – Photo Editor, by Burleigh Labs Baby Pics
  • InShot Video Editor Music, Cut by Instashot
  • Pic Collage – Photo Editor, by Cardinal Blue Software, Inc.
  • Google Photos, by Google
  • Word Swag – Cool Fonts, by Oringe Photo & Fonts Caption Co.
  • Enlight, by Lightricks Ltd.
  • Facetune, by Lightricks Ltd.

What about the 3 apps that have ratings of less than 3.0? It includes a familiar one, Snapchat, with a user rating of 1.8 on iOS (which tracks the app’s latest version)! Yes, the redesign of their UI didn’t go over very well…

We did not find statistically significant user rating differences for iOS vs. Android, nor for paid vs. free top-ranking apps.

Photo app developers’ domicile

Where do these successful app developers reside? We tracked down the domicile of the developers responsible for 82 of the top 100 ranking photo apps in the US app stores and found that almost 50% are based in the US. In reality, this number is probably a little lower, assuming that many of the more obscure app developers (the ones that don’t have a website and only list a Gmail or Hotmail email address in their store descriptions) are located outside the US.

Questions or suggestions for our next round of doodling with the app store data? Drop me a note!

And a few more things …

Microsoft. Image recognition is saving a few steps: Microsoft Pix can now add somebody on LinkedIn just by taking a photo of their business card.

Fujifilm and Holland America Line. As I wrote a few weeks ago, mono-brand stores have an untapped potential for the imaging industry, as was illustrated by Fujifilm’s well-executed New York Wonder Photo Shop. Having that shop on 5th Avenue is apparently just the beginning, as Fujifilm’s store concept is now going to be transplanted to 8 of HAL’s cruise ships.

Bose. AR is about augmenting any of our senses with digitally created content, as we outlined in our Consumer AR App Trends reportBose understands this as no other for sound, and just announced it’s developing augmented reality glasses with a focus on sound. Bose also announced an AR SDK and a $50M fund to invest in companies that will build things with Bose AR.

VentureBeat. Making AR scalable. Read Floris van Eck’s and my AR recommendations for the Big 5 tech companies on VentureBeat.

PicsArt. After Lightricks, VSCO and Adobe, it’s now PicsArt that’s introducing a subscription model for their app.

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Hans Hartman

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