Given the increasing interest in generative AI tools such as text-based ChatGPT and image-based Midjourney, AI-powered apps are growing in number and popularity across both app stores.
A report from analytics firm Apptopia suggests that 158 AI Chatbot apps — describing them with keywords like “AI Chat” or “AI Chatbot” — hit app stores in the first quarter of this year. That’s a 1480% year-over-year increase, mainly thanks to OpenAI publicly releasing the ChatGPT API in March.
The data suggests that multiple apps like Nova AI, Genie AI, and Chat With Ask AI have broken into top charts on app stores — many of these apps have the same name, so it’s easy to get them confused. At the time of writing, Chat With Ask AI is in the top 10 free apps on iOS in multiple countries.
Apptopia mentions in the report that developers are trying to convert AI chatbot technology, which is readily available in a web browser, into a native mobile experience and are charging money for it. Typically, these apps charge users for unlocking unlimited (or large number of) conversations with the chatbot.
The analytics company noted that the number of downloads for AI-powered apps is up 1506% year-over-year, reaching nearly 20 million in March. In-app spending also jumped to nearly $3 million in March — a massive 4184% year-over-year increase.
Data collected by Bernstein and app analytics company data.ai (formerly App Annie) paints a rosier picture. It says user spend on the top 10 GPT-3 powered AI apps reached $6 million in February 2023.
While most of these apps use the same basic technology, they try to create differentiation by helping people with different clues or introducing multiple versions of bots with different skills or moods. For example, Quora’s Poe allows users to interact with multiple chatbots powered by ChatGPT, GPT-4, Claude, and more. All of these bots have different personalities, so you can interact with them for different use cases. Earlier this week, the app launched a new feature that allows users to create their own bots using prompts. Some early examples include a pirate language bot, a bot that converts messages into emojis, and a Japanese language teacher bot.
In addition to indie developers, Microsoft has also benefited from this new wave of popularity of AI-powered apps. The company announced the integration of OpenAI technology with Bing earlier this year. Apptopia said average daily downloads from Bing have increased by 1000% since then. While the search app entered the App Store’s top charts in February, its rank dropped rapidly and its downloads still remain at 1/10 of Google’s downloads, according to data.ai.
Bernstein’s analysis also suggests that downloads for Microsoft’s Edge browser, which also integrated an AI chatbot powered by OpenAI technology, are up 135% in Q1 2023 from a year earlier . The company said the browser reached 1/3 of Chrome’s download volumes during this period. .
Despite this rising popularity, analysts at Bernstein are cautious. They said it’s “too early to comment on whether any of these pure-play AI assistant apps have staying power.” This indicates that AI-powered chatbots are a new use case, but the longevity of interest in them has yet to be tested.
But this AI app attack also brings questionable tools to the app stores. Last week, China-based tech giant Baidu sued Apple for allowing counterfeit apps from its Ernie bot on the App Store. Earlier this year, many apps labeled “ChatGPT” flooded the App Store and Play Store at a time when OpenAI had not yet released an official API.