Mobile App Downloads Hit 218 Billion, Consumer Spend Reaches $143 Billion in 2020: App Annie


Market of mobile apps continued to grow in 2020 despite the coronavirus outbreak, with new app downloads growing seven percent year-over-year to 218 billion, according to a report. Consumer spending on app stores also resulted in a growth of 20 percent year-over-year. The expansion of app downloads and usage of smartphones has pushed mobile ad spend significantly. This has indeed helped app developers grow their earnings at a time when many professionals worldwide lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Consumers spending on app stores comprising Google Play, Apple’s App Store, and third-party app stores hit $143 billion (roughly Rs. 10,45,988 crores) in 2020, mobile analytics firm App Annie said in its annual State of Mobile industry report. The spending was led by China, followed by the US and Japan.

app annie mobile report 2021 image App downloads  App Annie

App stores spend grew 20 percent year-over-year to $143 billion (roughly Rs. 10,45,988 crores) in 2020
Photo Credit: App Annie

Time spent on mobile devices also grew significantly in 2020 — owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that locked most of the world’s population at their homes. App Annie’s report mentioned that particularly in the US, time spent on mobile was eight percent more than the time spent on watching live TV. Consumers globally spent as much as 3.5 trillion hours particularly on Android phones, the firm noted.

In India, the average hours spent on mobile per day grew to 4.6 hours from 3.3 hours in 2019. Similar trends was observed in markets including China, Japan, South Korea, and the UK, among others.

The increased time spent on mobile devices wasn’t limited to a certain demographic. App Annie underlined that in the US particularly, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X/ Baby Boomers spent 16 percent, 18 percent, and 30 percent more time year-over-year, respectively. However, there were some differences on which apps certain demographics spent their most time.

Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, ROBLOX, and Spotify were the most likely apps to use among Gen Z users, while Millennials preferred Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora Music, and Amazon Music. Gen X/ Baby Boomers, on the other hand, spent their most time on Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle, and ColorNote Notepad Notes, according to the firm.

Among other apps, TikTok outcast the top social apps with up to 325 percent year-over-year growth in hours per user. That growth came irrespective of the ban in India and government criticism in markets including the US. App Annie projects that TikTok is on track to reach 1.2 billion active users in 2021.

WhatsApp, however, led the race in markets including India. Average time spent on the instant messaging app in the country grew to 21.3 hours per month from 17.2 hours in 2019.

The growth in time spent and app store downloads also helped developers earn more in 2020. App Annie mentioned in the report that 25 percent more app developers earned over $2 million (roughly Rs. 14.62 crores) per annum through app stores. Apple also recently announced its programme to cut its commission rate from 30 percent to 15 percent. That move would help 97 percent of developers who monetise through the App Store.

Mobile app market also attracted investors. Global funding to mobile technology companies from 2016 to 2020 more than doubled compared to the previous five years, App Annie reported. Investment capital poured into mobile companies also grew 27 percent year-over-year to $73 billion (roughly Rs. 5,33,939 crores) particularly in 2020.

In terms of mobile gaming, casual games dominated the market with 78 percent of total game downloads. Among Us, ROBLOX, and My Talking Tom Friends were amongst the most downloaded games. Mobile gaming market is also believed to be on track to cross the mark of $120 billion (roughly Rs. 8,77,728 crores) in consumer spend in 2021.

Alongside mobile games, finance apps saw a growth of 45 percent year-over-year worldwide outside of China in 2020. The case was, however, different in China. It was due to the new legislation in the peer-to-peer lending space, App Annie noted.

As people were mostly staying indoors in 2020, the annual report shows that 40 percent more hours streamed on mobile. YouTube saw up to six times increase in time spent per user when compared with the next closest app. It also ruled the market in average time spent per user per month, according to the report.

Business apps including Zoom and Google Meet also saw an uptick of 275 percent in the fourth quarter as people largely started working from home and embraced the concept of remote learning.

Facebook dominated the list of top apps with most monthly active users worldwide, with its native app securing the first position followed by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. However, TikTok emerged as the most downloaded app in 2020, followed by Facebook, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

On the gaming front, PUBG Mobile led the market in terms of having the most monthly active users. Candy Crush Saga, Ludo King, and Among Us came second, third, and fourth. However, Free Fire topped the most downloads chart, followed by Among Us, Subway Surfers, and PUBG Mobile.

Tinder emerged as the leading app with most consumer spend in the year, while in terms of mobile games, Honour of Kings beat the competition.

What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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