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App Store Bug boosts in the Top Charts

Anumber of smaller,paid applicationsscoreda spot on the App Stores Top Grossing chart over the weekend in what mayhave been either the test of a new App Store algorithm or a fairly significant bug. The issue began on Friday, and only seemed to affect the Top Grossing apps, butnot the other charts, like Top Free or Top Paid apps.

However, the Top Grossing Charts were affected across all App Store categories, not just themain Top Grossing chart for the whole App Store.

As one developer noted, their app had dropped from the No. 2 position in their category to the No. 35 position.This is what first alerted them to the problem, as they had just finished a very strong day and were having what may be their best month to date.

Throughout the weekend, apps that typically ranked well on the Top Grossing charts fell, while other, less popular apps tooktheir place. It appeared as if the algorithm was now favoring paid apps over those that monetized using in-app purchases.

For example, the algorithm shift benefited some emoji apps, like Steph Currys StephMoji.But while its somewhat plausible that a handful ofemoji apps had seen some sort of sudden popularity, others hitting the charts seemed out-of-place, like the more niche Construction Manager Pro or a $15 text translator app. (See below).


Image Credit: Sensor Tower

One theory put forth by softwaremaker Equinux is that Apple was experimenting with a new algorithm that would put less weight on things like recurring subscription revenue, and more on paid apps.

This would make sense, given how stagnant the Top Grossing charts have become.

Today, the App Stores Top Grossing charts are often dominated by evergreen games, like Supercells Clash Royale, Candy Crush or Pokmon GO, for instance, along with top streaming services such as Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and others.


Though Apple more recently opened subscriptions to a wider varietyof app businesses, the popularity of subscriptions has led to Top Grossing charts thatconsistently feature the same apps. This makes it harder for new apps to break in, and makes the charts less interesting to browse.

Following the change, paid apps were competing on equal terms with subscription-based apps, as the new algorithm appeared to only include new and first-time subscriptions, not renewals.

For indie apps, the change was welcome, as they finally got a chance at ranking in this section alongside the big names.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Things returned to normal around 12 AM Monday morning.

Of course, this could mean that Apple is at least consideringa change tohow this part of its App Store works. But whetherit matters all that much in terms of app discovery is another question. While some percentage of users may turn to the Top Charts to see whats trending, they often now just search the App Store by keyword, or browse through the editorially curated sections. That said, the Top Grossing charts are due for a shake up, and it wouldnt be surprising to see Apple continue to experiment inthis area.

That said, given the brief appearance of the change and quick rollback, its just as likely that this was a bug and nothing more.

Update Some additional data from Sensor Tower:

Six out of yesterdays top 10 Grossing iPhone apps were paid apps. However, it doesnt appear that the paid game that made it into the top 10 benefitted from the additional exposure, in terms of new downloads.

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Hollar snags another $30 million for its fast-growing dollar store app

Hollar,a startup offering dollar store-like finds in the form of a mobile app, has raised another $30 million to continue to grow its business.The new Series B round of funding was led byKleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and included participationby Comcast Ventures and Greycroft Partners, as wellexisting investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Index Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, and Pritzker Group.

As a part of the deal,Eric Feng, General Partner at KPCB, will join Hollars board.

To date, Hollar has raised $47.5 million, following its prior $12 million Series A and $5.5 million seed rounds, which were closed only four months apart.

David Yeom

The company is tackling an interesting space the super low price points where the majority of its merchandise has been around the $2 mark. During the first 10 months of its business, nothing was more than $5, but its now expanding into the $10 space for the holidays, which will allow it to sell more higher-quality toys and gifts.

Hollar, by way of background, got off the ground withThe Honest Companys CEO Brian Lee, who helped to develop the concept along with co-founder and CEO David Yeom, a former VP at Honest. Lee now serves as a board member, but isnt involved day-to-day.

Says Yeom, people dismissed the idea that an online dollar store could be successful.

When we were launching this business, people said theres no way you can make money selling a $2 item!, he laughs. But what the naysayers didnt understand is how dollar store shoppers tend to buy you dont go into the store and buy a single $1 item. You load up your basket with dozens of the stores cheaplypriced products.

Similarly, Hollars shoppers do the same.


In fact, Yeom says that Hollars shoppers spend more than double the typical basket size at brick-and-mortar dollar stores, as its average basket size is around $30 to their $15. That means Hollar customers are buying around 10 items per order.

This is what led the shop to achieve over $1 million in sales in under six months, and see double-digit growth every month since.

This increased basket size, however, is in part due the fact that Hollar requires a $10 minimum purchase in order to check out, and free shipping only kicks in on orders over $25.

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The company claims to have over 1 million registered users across web and mobile, but according to recent stats from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the iOS app in the U.S. has seen just192,000 downloads to date. That said, the app is also available on Android, in addition to its online store.

However, whats interesting is that Hollar claims half its customers are arriving via non-paid channels. This figure indicating high word-of-mouth organic growth seems high. But anecdotally, Ive seen it myself. When Ive told friends to downloadHollar, the first thing they do is load up their basket with some $20+ worth of goods.


The Hollar store itself has been growing, along with its sales, the majority of which come frommobile.


Today, there are now over 10,000 live SKUs on its site and, by next month, around300 of those will be Hollars own private label products. These include a number of home and kitchen items, electronics and accessories, and even, soon, a Hollar-branded VR viewer that works with your smartphone.

While Yeom wont speak to the margins on Hollars private label items, he says theyre substantially higher than those from its vendors.

But there is one waywhere Hollar isnt mirroring its retail dollar store rivals: grocery items. Thats an area were not investing too much in we want to stay true to the light and fun aspect, says Yeom.

Private labels and careful product consideration arentthe only ways Hollar is planning to growits business. The other is the launch of a seller marketplace in the first quarter of 2017. Like Amazon and eBay, this will allow for direct sales from sellers to Hollars customers.

If you truly want to scale, I think this is really the right approach, says Yeom. With any e-commerce business, inventory is a slippery slope. You have to be very mindfulof it. This is definitely one way we can offer a greater depth and breadth of products.

He notes that Hollars sellers will be vetted with a white glove approach, to keep quality high.

Were going to be very meticulous, very judicious about who sellswe want to make sure the experience is first and foremost, Yeom explains. A seller rating and review system will arrive next year as well, to allow for consumer feedback.


Hollar, currently a team of over 150, also plans to increase its headcount as it moves itswarehouse and corporate office from their prior separate locations into, ironically, the more than 180,000 square-foot former 99 Cents Only Stores facility.It also plans to explore an East Coast-based warehouse

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