MoffettNathanson: Facebook apps downloads surge in 4Q; Twitter buoyed by Periscope

Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter's app portfolios' fourth-quarter total downloads both came out ahead of where they ended up during the same quarter in 2014, according to MoffettNathanson. The analyst firm, now getting its app data from Apptopia, found Facebook's app portfolio notch impressive annual growth globally while finding more modest results in the U.S. Twitter's portfolio growth almost matched Facebook's, but mostly because of Periscope.

  • Combined global Android and iOS downloads for Facebook's apps in the fourth quarter totaled 161.5 million, up 56% from the 103.3 million total downloads those same apps posted in the year-ago quarter. Groups jumped out with a 181% increase (up to 2.7 million from 1 million, though) but Messenger (51%), WhatsApp (74%), Facebook (59%) and Instagram (36%) all grew impressively year-over-year.
  • Combined U.S. Android and iOS downloads for Facebook's apps in the fourth quarter totaled 38.7 million, up only 4% from 37.4 million one year ago. Again, Groups grew the fastest at 75% but that only represented an increase to 600,000 downloads from 300,000 downloads. Messenger (7%), WhatsApp (4%) and Facebook (3%) all grew modestly while Instagram (-6%) fell behind its year-ago download totals.
  • Combined global Android and iOS downloads for Twitter's apps in the fourth quarter totaled 32.9 million, up 50% from 22 million in the year-ago quarter. Twitter totaled 17.7 million (up 35%) and Vine totaled 6.4 million (down 27%) but Periscope's 8.8 million downloads during the quarter buoyed the portfolio totals. Without Periscope's downloads, Twitter's portfolio grew only 10% year-over-year.
  • Combined U.S. Android and iOS downloads for Twitter's apps in the fourth quarter totaled 10.4 million, up 22% from 8.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Twitter's totals fell by 5% and Vine's totals fell by 22%, meaning Twitter's app portfolio download growth in the U.S. dipped 13% annually if not for Periscope's 3 million downloads.

The quote:

"Facebook and Twitter's portfolios each grew 50%+ across iOS and Android in 4Q15," the analyst firm said in its report. "This is largely a reflection of the growth of the Android ecosystem but also speaks to the increasingly global influence of these app portfolios and penetration rates which are lower outside the U.S., where we believe iOS over-indexes...U.S. app downloads across the iOS and Android for Facebook and Twitter paint a less robust growth story than the global data, highlighting the strong growth of International."

The context:

Unlike Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), which just announced a massive 130-country expansion and saw its stock soar accordingly, neither Facebook nor Twitter have any huge international growth magic rabbit to pull out of the hat. In the case of Facebook, increasing its flock across the globe has entailed more "altruistic" endeavors like and Free Basics. But if the recent pushback in India, where groups are blasting Free Basics as too limited and in defiance of net neutrality, is any indication of how Facebook's global growth strategy is being perceived, the company may need to rethink its strategy or consider acquisitions as a possibility for continued growth of its app portfolio.

For the complete report, click here.

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