3 Years of MARS

December 8, 2021

The Marketplace Analytics Research Service (MARS) is our objective database on the Atlassian Marketplace. Excitingly, this month marks the 3rd anniversary of MARS since we created it in November 2018!

As an Atlassian Platinum Partner who is not in the app-making game, we pride ourselves on our ability to independently analyze the Marketplace. Way back in 2018 we realized that we could bring incredible value to our customers and the Atlassian community as a whole by creating MARS for two reasons:

Firstly, there is the vast size of the Marketplace: with 1,500 vendors, 4,000 apps, and 1.5M active installs it can be difficult to see through the noise of the Marketplace and find apps that will add value to your instance.

Secondly, there is a problem with vendors self categorizing on the Marketplace. While this is certainly democratic practically, when you’re searching for an app in a category, for example, reporting, it can be a challenge. With so many entries how do you compare true, dedicated reporting apps? Charts and diagramming for instance has 200+ apps in it, few of which have anything to do with diagramming.

MARS overcomes these problems in two ways:

To overcome the size of the Marketplace we focus our attention on the 544 apps in the 500 Club. This means we are able to have more valuable insights into the Marketplace without seriously sacrificing our breadth since the 500 Club apps make up over 82% of Marketplace instances.

And to overcome vendor self-selection, we have carefully assigned “Meaningful Categories” to all 500 Club apps based on the primary functionality. This means that when you search for a reporting app in MARS, you will only see true reporting apps.

What’s Been Going On?

To mark this 3 year anniversary of MARS we’ve put together some MARS-powered analysis that helps to paint a picture of how the Marketplace has developed over this time.

From Figure 1 we can see that the Marketplace as a whole has grown by 53% over these 3 years. Aside from a few short-term fluctuations (which are generally due to Atlassian ‘cleaning up’ inactive instances), the Marketplace has trended consistently upwards.

Figure 1: Overall Marketplace Growth

We can see from Figure 2 that the bulk of this growth has been on Jira. Obviously, Jira is Atlassian’s largest product so we would expect it to have the most Marketplace instances, but what is most interesting here is the growth of Jira in comparison to Confluence and Bitbucket. While Confluence is impressively up 42% and Bitbucket is down 22% over the past 3 years, Jira Marketplace instances are up 70% on Jira from under 600,000 to nearly 1M.

Figure 2: Marketplace Growth by Product

As we see in Figure 3, this growth in Jira Marketplace instances is largely driven by Testing solutions (like Zephyr and Xray) and Planning tools (like Structure and BigPicture). Since Jira is a naturally more customizable platform than Confluence and has more varied uses it makes sense that 3rd party add-ons for Jira would be more popular overall than those for Confluence. However, by some distance, the fastest growing app over the past 3 years has been draw.io for Confluence–remarkably adding nearly 23,000 installs over this period.

Figure 3: Fastest Growing Apps from Nov 2018- Nov 2021

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the success over the past 3 years of BigPicture and Structure, Planning has been the fastest-growing category from Nov 2018-2021. On top of the success of Structure and BigPicture (including their smaller offerings), a number of other Planning tools have also grown significantly over this period including Tempo Planner, WBS Gantt, Calendar for Jira, Issue Checklist, and Planning Poker.

Integrations to external products, in particular Cloud integrations, have also exploded over the past 3 years. Integrations to tools like Git, Google Drive/Docs, and Microsoft 365 by BigBrassBand, Bilith (GSuite apps), and yasoon equivalently, have grown in popularity as users seek to save time and energy switching between their Atlassian and non-Atlassian tools.

Figure 4: Fastest Growing Categories from Nov 2018- Nov 2021

Reporting was the 3rd fastest-growing category from Nov 2018-2021 driven by the established players like Table Filter and Charts for Confluence by Stiltsoft on Confluence and eazyBI on Jira. However, Custom Charts for Jira by Old Street Solutions is increasingly challenging in this space and was (for apps with under 4000 instances) the fastest growing app over the past 3 years.

Figure 5: Fastest Growing Apps with Under 4000 instances from Nov 2018- Nov 2021

As we all likely know by now, Appfire has been on a major app buying spree over the past couple of years. Figure 6 breaks down when these acquisitions took place and what categories were positively impacted by them. For instance, we can see that the 2020 acquisitions of beecom and Innovalog made Appfire a major player in the Scripting/Automation space while acquiring SoftwarePlant and its BigPicture suite made Planning their 2nd largest category.

Figure 6: Appfire’s 2020 & 2021 Acquisitions

Appfire was also the fastest-growing Marketplace vendor over this 3 year period. This is perhaps not surprising given that they now control over 20% of all Marketplace instances. Furthermore, due to Appfire’s canny acquisition strategy, a number of apps they acquired have done excellently over the past 3 years, particularly BigPicture and Power Admin (Figure 3).

Figure 7: Fastest Growing Vendors from Nov 2018 – Nov 2021

Since one of the data points we collect through MARS is the platform that the respective apps run on (e.g. an app can run on all of Cloud, DC, and Server, just Cloud, DC, and Server etc…) we can derive insight into where the action is happening in terms of app growth by platform.

All three app platforms that feature cloud (Cloud, DC, Server ; Cloud only ; Cloud, Server) have seen spectacular growth over the past 3 years. In particular, apps that just run on Cloud have impressed most of all with a growth of nearly 450%. Likewise, apps that run on cloud, DC, & server and apps that run on cloud and server have grown by 66% and 121% respectively. On the other hand, growth rates for apps that don’t run on cloud (either DC and server or just server) have not been as impressive growing by 15% and 7% respectively.

From these data points, we can infer that most Marketplace growth over the past 3 years has been on the cloud.

Figure 8: Marketplace Growth by Platform

We hope that you found our overview of the Atlassian Marketplace insightful. Please reach out to us at hello@blendedperspectives.com with any questions.