The new decade ushers in the next phase of mobile, with smartphones and smart devices as the primary link that connects us with the world around us.
With major players in the industry working together to create IoT standardization, the mobile industry is primed for growth. By 2025, it is projected there will be 25.2 billion connected devices.
Millennials and Gen Z represent this mobile takeover by embracing the technology to the fullest. They use mobile devices to browse the internet and consume web content 3 times more often than on a desktop. It’s no question that mobile dominates the world but the way the younger generations have adapted to technology gives us a glimpse into what the future holds.
Mobile is set to be the brain of devices and screens everywhere-whether streaming to Apple TV or Chromecast or controlling features in your vacuum. In the US, there were over 106 million downloads of the top 20 IoT apps in 2019 alone. These apps have started to play an irreplaceable role in our daily lives. The figures are growing every quarter with more apps being published every day and along with it the market for mobile apps.
Therefore, whether you are a developer, an app owner, or a marketer, being up to date on the key app stats from the intriguing world of web applications is essential to make sure your own app or future app aligns with what your target audience wants and expects from the mobile apps of the future.
1. Smartphone Users Worldwide
Currently there are 4.78 billion unique mobile users and 73.2% of them own smartphones. Smartphones are becoming a bigger part of daily life for many people across the globe. These devices are approaching an average penetration level of 76% worldwide with some countries like South Korea showing a stunning 95% of adult usage.
Emerging economies are catching up as well. Brazil and South Africa already present 60% penetration, while India’s seemingly lower number of 24% still represents hundreds of millions of users. These numbers are skyrocketing every year, and along with it, the market for mobile apps. Smartphones paved the way for mobile apps to flourish, and ever since, there has been no sign of stopping.
According to the 2019 Mary Meeker report, mobile internet usage is rising every year while web traffic generated from tablets and desktops continues to decline and the split between desktop and mobile is becoming more and more pronounced.
2. Worldwide App Store and Google Play Downloads
Global app downloads have rapidly increased over recent years reaching 36.4 billion in Q3 2020, an increase of 22.8% year-on-year.
App Store installs grew 2.5% to 8.2 billion, while Google Play saw 30.3% growth to 28.2 billion. In 2017, total app downloads were just 178 billion, and by 2019, the number had reached 204 billion for the year, with both app stores combined to produce a stunning 114.9 billion of those downloads, reflecting the incredible smartphone penetration and the increasingly prominent and permanent role of apps in our daily lives.
Fast forward to 2020, with the global pandemic creating a lot more idle time and unused resources for people as they’re quarantined at home, both app stores have seen the highest number of downloads ever achieved in a single quarter.
While Android downloads have been the obvious leader in terms of growth, the most dramatic leap in recent years was the 19% jump in iOS downloads recorded in Q1 2020. However, Q2 2020 saw a small decline, while Google Play app downloads grew by 18%, after 16% in Q1. These Android figures are limited to apps downloaded through the Google Play Store; third-party downloads are excluded. Why? Because Android downloads are not counted in China, due to Google Play Store being blocked in the world’s largest app market.
3. Time Spent on Mobile Devices
Now that we have found out how many people use smartphones and download various apps, the next thing is how much time is spent using them.
An average person devotes close to an eighth of their day to mobile content consumption, meaning we spend 3.7 hours browsing our mobile devices, 35% more than 2 years before. Mobile-first emerging markets such as Indonesia, Brasil, India continue to spend the most time on mobile each day accompanied by China’s staggering growth with the average user spending 60% more on mobile each day.
Zooming in on that statistic, when it comes to app usage, social media and communications apps take the majority of our time with 50% of mobile app time spent. The increasing gap between mobile app usage and mobile browser usage is widening the same way mobile and desktop usages do. In 2020, eMarketer predicts that adult smartphone users will spend nearly 90% of mobile internet time in apps, rather than a browser. This speaks to the importance of companies not only optimizing their websites for mobile, but creating custom, responsive apps as well.
4. Digital Ad Spend on Mobile
With the ever rising time spent on mobile devices, it’s no wonder that brands are devoting more and more money on digital ads to reach potential consumers. So much so that digital ad spend exceeded traditional advertising for the first time in 2019 amounting to $190 billion worldwide. The figure is expected to reach 280 billion by 2022 as brands harness mobile’s potential.
According to PubMatic’s Q2 Quarterly Mobile Index, mobile ad spend increased globally, rising 71% over last year. While mobile advertising decreased in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, it recovered way quicker than desktop advertising, showing strong growth through the end of Q2 and into Q3.
Marketers continue to see mobile as an effective channel to engage with audiences. With increased mobile media consumption due to the pandemic, mobile ad engagement rose 15%. So, unsurprisingly 39% of marketers plan to increase their mobile marketing budgets as soon as this year and 49% plan to dedicate more than a quarter of their budget to mobile, up from 40% last year.
Moreover, in line with the increasing time spent on apps, publishers are embracing programmatic tactics to enhance and boost their revenue. Header bidding and private marketplaces (PMPs) for mobile saw significant growth in Q2 – in-app PMP ad spend was up nearly 5X. Mobile header bidding ad spend grew 20% over last year, pushing the mobile share
of total header bidding to 59% in Q2.
5. Most Downloaded Apps Worldwide
TikTok has grown to become both a social networking app and a source of entertainment, showcasing short, user-generated videos. It’s no surprise that it is one of the most downloaded non-gaming apps of 2020. TikTok was initially seen as a Gen Z space only, but it has experienced an influx of new users from various demographics thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As more users are stuck at home with little to nothing to do, they’re looking for new ways to entertain themselves: TikTok and similar video-sharing apps fill the void by presenting fun videos and an irresistible feed that never seems to end.
TikTok regained the top spot for global downloads in Q3 2020 despite being banned in India during the quarter the threat of a similar fate in the United States. After surpassing 300M downloads in both Q1 and Q2 2020, its installs dipped under 200M in Q3.
Global time spent on TikTok grew 210% year-on-year in 2019, both from expanding user bases and increasing time spent per user. 8 out of every 10 min spent on the platform were by users in China, but the app’s usage has also grown in other markets.
Due to the pandemic and the work-from-home setup ZOOM was the second most installed non-gaming app worldwide and number one app by U.S. downloads for the second consecutive quarter. Its 66 million downloads during the past two quarters was well ahead of TikTok, the No. 2 app in the U.S. at around 42 million.
The subscription video on demand (SVOD) space remained competitive in the U.S. with Netflix ranking at No 8, Disney+ (9), and Hulu (20) each surpassing 6.5 million U.S. downloads in 3Q 2020.
6. Top Countries by App Downloads
App download statistics show that China still dominates the app download market. It’s single-handedly responsible for almost 45% of global total downloads, a whooping 95 billion in total.
Aside from China, India’s rapid download growth continued in Q3 2020, reaching a record high of 7.8 billion across the App Store and Google Play. India truly leads the way in terms of growth and volume. The incredible 190% growth since 2016 places it as second in terms of global app downloads with nearly 20 billion app downloads in 2019; more or less 10% of the global total. India’s huge growth in Q3 gave it nearly 3x the downloads of the next closest country on Google Play, Brazil. India was responsible for 27.2% of all downloads on Google Play in Q3 2020, up from 22.8% in Q3 2019.
12.3 billion US downloads leave the world’s leading mature app market in third place, with three-year growth of a mere 5%.
The only change among the top 10 countries was the Philippines entering the top 10 at No. 9. With an increase of 68% year-on-year to nearly 800 million in Q3 2020.
7. Top App Categories
By far the biggest app category in terms of downloads are games with a whooping 2.32 billion downloads on iOS. Gaming apps register nearly three times as many downloads as the second-biggest app category: ‘photo & video’ with 700 million downloads.
Among the top-five app categories, that which has seen the most growth is ‘shopping’, with a huge 40% increase in app downloads year-on-year.
The huge gap between games and other app categories is even more evident in Google Play downloads. Android mobile game downloads have registered a staggering 51% year-on-year increase in downloads, totaling at 12 billion. This is near seven times more than the second-biggest category, ‘tools’, with a total of 1.82 billion.
Despite apps being the biggest category social apps take the cake when it comes to mobile time usage. Smartphone users are spending 50% of their mobile time in social and communication apps. In second place comes video and entertainment apps, like Netflix and TikTok, at 21% of total usage time. Although, the lines are beginning to blur between social and entertainment apps as millennials and Gen Z turn to them for similar purposes.
8. Global Mobile App Revenue
The mobile app industry makes billions of dollars in revenue each year and this has been the trend for some time now. The mobile app market generated $462 billion in 2019, while the year before that, the figure was $365.2 billion.
When creating an app, one of the first things you need to clear out is your monetization strategy. As of today, 95% of mobile apps for Android and 90% for iOS are free which makes developers explore new monetization models, such as in-app subscription, ads, in-app purchases or other income-bringing methods, such as in-game currencies. Therefore 98% of app revenue comes from free apps. Consumer spent hit $120 billion, up 2.1x times from 2016.
The gaming industry is the most significant revenue contributor to the mobile app industry, making up 72% of all app stores spent. Mobile gaming is projected to surpass $100 billion in consumer spend in 2020. Entertainment apps, social networking apps, and photo and video sharing apps also make the list of top revenue contributors although far behind the obvious front runner.
Subscriptions in non-gaming apps fuel the growth in spend. On IOS in the US, 97% of non-gaming consumers spent in top 250 apps was driven by apps with subscriptions in 2019. On Google Play, this was slightly lower at 91%. Most notably 4 out of the top 5 non-gaming apps for 2019 based on worldwide consumer spend were video apps.
Video is one of the most popular content formats, and it’s not going away any time soon. It is a popular type of content for subscriptions, so it is no surprise that video apps drive a big chunk of mobile revenue.
9. Gen Z’s Mobile Engagement
Gen Z is quickly and surely turning out to be one of the most powerful consumer segments. As the youngest generations, Gen Z is expected to surpass millennials as the largest generation by the end of 2019, comprising roughly 32% of the population, controlling an estimated spending power of $143 billion annually.
98% of Gen Z report owning a smartphone, on average receiving their first as early as at the age of 10, so it’s clear that businesses trying to reach them need to meet them on their own terms. Gen Z has never known a world without their smartphone. They see the world through their mobile-first lens. As a fairly new consumer segment, their brand preferences are not yet clearly established, giving brands the opportunity to resonate and interact with this generation on their favorite platforms.
Evidently, Gen Z holds the crown for the highest number of sessions and most time spent per month in top non-gaming apps. According to ComScore, smartphone users between the ages of 13-24 are the heaviest mobile app users spending 71% of their digital media time using smartphone apps. TikTok and Snapchat are the most over-indexed apps among Gen Z in 9 out of 10 markets analyzed, clearly showing the importance of a photo and video-first strategy.
10. App Cybersecurity Issues
Vulnerable applications continue to be the key attack factor in externally caused security breaches. In a 2019 Forrester Research survey, 42% of organizations that had an external attack blamed the occurrence on a software security flaw, and 35% said it had resulted from a buggy web app.
Let’s take a look at one of the most explosive apps of the past years: TikTok, a rare Chinese internet success story in the West. It has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, beating better-known apps from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snap for the leading place worldwide.
New apps like TikTok are the perfect opportunity for hackers looking to target services that haven’t been tested through years of security research and real-world attacks. In addition, many of its users are underage and less than mindful of security updates. Lately, it has become a target of lawmakers and regulators who are suspicious of Chinese technology. Several branches of the US military have prohibited personnel from downloading the app on government-issued smartphones. Plus serious vulnerabilities have been discovered that would have allowed hackers to manipulate user data and reveal personal information.
Mobiles have certainly become an inseparable part of our lives changing the way we spend our spare time and even make purchase decisions. Hopefully our comprehensive list of app statistics has helped you grasp the market more to identify opportunities for promoting your own app. Understanding what your target audiences are actually doing on mobile and what they are expecting from you can define a widely successful app that will quickly go up the ranks and be included in our next update of this article. Good luck!
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