Although global smartphone sales are constantly in flux, consumers are more reliant on their mobile devices than ever. That is good news for app sales and spending. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to cause disruptions to “normal” life people are looking for ways to connect, stay productive, and entertain themselves.
According to a recent report from App Annie, mobile content is helping fill the void. In the third quarter of 2020, consumers around the world downloaded a total of 33 billion new apps and spent a record $28 billion in the process. That figure marks a 20 percent year-over-year increase.
Rising App Usage
Summer 2020 hasn’t been kind. Major events have been canceled, group gatherings are limited, and new issues break the headlines every day. For humanity, that isn’t great. For the world of mobile apps, it was a catalyst for growth.
Throughout July, August, and September, mobile phone users spent a collective 180 billion hours each month on their devices. That reflects a 25 percent year-over-year increase. Of course, that jump probably isn’t sustainable once the world starts returning to normal.
That being said, research suggests that the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the way we interact with technology. Things like distance learning, remote work, and virtual hangouts have become a part of daily life. Even when it is once again safe to gather in person, people may cling to their new virtual habits.
As for app stores specifically, Google Play saw its downloads grow by 10 percent compared to last year. It accounted for 25 billion of the 33 billion new app downloads in the third quarter. That might be surprising to those who view iOS as an uncontested leader in the smartphone space. However, Android devices continue to be the most popular around the world.
In the App Store, 70 percent of its nine billion new downloads were non-gaming apps. That reflects the growing number of people turning to their smartphone for productivity and socialization.
As with everything, money matters. On Google Play, consumers spent over $10 billion, marking a 35 percent year-over-year increase. iOS was more lucrative. It drew in $18 billion worth of app-related spending to account for a 20 percent year-over-year increase.
Growing in Categories
Although it’s often hard to find causation with growth that’s correlated to real-world events, the impact of the pandemic can clearly be seen in the app sector’s Q3 jump. Entertainment was the largest category for consumer spending during the period. That’s mainly thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, which attracted new subscribers in record numbers.
Meanwhile, apps like Twitch saw a massive uptick in users throughout the pandemic as esports became one of the only forms of live entertainment.
Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tinder jumped to the number one spot in terms of consumer spending with people looking for new ways to connect.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook continued to dominate in terms of monthly active users. It held the top four spots thanks to its main app, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Like it or not, that’s an impressive feat. Other apps with the most usage include Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, TikTok, and Telegram.
Hopefully, the fourth quarter of 2020 will be kinder than the third. It will be interesting to see how the pandemic continues to affect mobile app usage and spending in the remaining months of the year.