Mobile App downloads have rapidly increased over recent years, according to stats published by Sensor Tower. The total number of apps downloaded globally each quarter has doubled in the five years since 2015, revealing increased smartphone penetration and the increasingly prominent role of apps in our lives.
In 2020, these apps played prominent roles, especially in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in contact tracing and spreading awareness of the importance of social distancing, which mitigates the spread of the pandemic. With over 3.2 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s no surprise that the mobile app industry is thriving and growing steadily.
Generally, technological devices have been known to keep humanity busy and “glued to their screens,” as the saying goes. Around 39% of males choose smartphones as their content consumption device, while 13% use tablets, based on the mobile app usage by age data. Meanwhile, desktops are the primary device for 48% of adult males. Clearly, the potential app user market is immense.
On the other hand, female users represent an even more significant part of the mobile device market, as 49% of them primarily consume content on their smartphones. In comparison, 16% of them choose to do so on tablets. The remaining 35% prefer desktops, as per the reports on mobile app usage demographics.
Here is the question, “why are people always glued to their screens?” well, research has shown 88% of mobile time is spent on mobile apps, and the reason for this addictive fixation to mobile devices is due to the struggle of mobile apps industries in trying to fulfill unlimited human needs and wants.
Understanding the theory behind this will guide anyone who owns an app or plans on developing one on how to transform their provided services into a highly lucrative and multi-billion dollar enterprise. For this to be brought to a realization:
- Users have to need and download your app.
- Users need to use your app to satisfy their needs.
However, individuals and companies in the mobile app development and creation space, just like Swiftspeed Appcreator, need to conduct a needs assessment to know the needs and wants of the users, which will be in tandem with the trend in the current world happenings. Without this knowledge, delving into this space is tantamount to shooting water guns at an attacking lion; it makes no difference.
For example: Opening a restaurant without knowing and understanding the preferred delicacies of the natives in the area where the restaurant is sited, in the long run, the restaurant will serve as much purpose as if it never existed, which is why in almost walks of life as well as in the technological space, NEEDS ASSESSMENT is important.
Important Mobile App Download Statistical Data
- The average smartphone owner uses 10 apps per day and 30 apps each month.
- Recent mobile marketing statistics show that 91% of all internet users worldwide are mobile internet users.
- Mobile apps are expected to generate over $935 billion in revenue by 2023.
- The Apple App Store has 1.96 million apps available for download.
- There are 2.87 million apps available for download on the Google Play Store.
- Google Play generates the largest amount of worldwide app downloads
Mobile App Download and Symbiotic Relationships
For the long-term success of any mobile app, downloads are crucial, which describes the symbiotic relationship between a mobile app and downloads.
Symbiosis is an interaction between two related entities/species, usually with benefit to one or both parties involved. Symbiosis in the case of mobile app and download is OBLIGATE. This is because the relationship between the two entities is so interdependent that they cannot survive without the other. Hence, without downloads, a mobile app is rendered useless.’
You may have a mobile app with the best user interface, user experience, and other features. Still, you will not be able to make money from it if it doesn’t get downloaded by users, so research needs to be carried out to conduct a needs assessment on grey areas to target the populace’s needs.
Global Mobile App Downloads
Globally, many people worldwide use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which increases the ease and access to the internet and internet applications.
In fact, according to SensorTower, WhatsApp topped the list with 223 million new installs, followed by Facebook Messenger, with 209 million installs. But TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world. In just one year, TikTok downloads grew by an impressive 70%.
Free and Paid $ Downloads.
One of the most important factors to be considered while creating a mobile app is monetization, i.e., how do you hope to generate revenue from your app’s services.
The chart above shows the statistic of free vs. paid app downloads from 2011-2017 in billions.
This clearly shows what people are downloading and that the vast majority of global downloads are all free rather than paid. In fact, 98% of app revenue worldwide comes from free apps. You can even check on your own mobile device; how many of them are paid? I am sure you if there’s any you can count them on your fingers. Just a few people are willing to pay for downloads, and most importantly depends on how essential the app is to them.
For a person to pay for an app before download, it usually reflects how vital it is to them in terms of the value it provides. No one would spend a fortune on an app and let it remain redundant without standing the test for which it was downloaded. Many users do not expect to pay for mobile apps, and that is because the majority of apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are offered for free.
The graph above shows the statistic of free and paid apps on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, which was culled from Statista, 2020.
Developers in the mobile app industry are sometimes advised to see and explore other monetization strategies asides from offering paid apps but by offering in-app purchases.
Review the latest mobile e-commerce revenue and usage statistics if you wish to use your app to sell and provide services.
Google Play Store and Apple App Store Downloads
These two are the go-to places where a bulk of mobile app and internet users download applications on their smartphones and other mobile devices. Android users outsource their apps from Google Play Store, while iOS users outsource their iPhone applications from Apple App Store.
Globally, it is evident even from the Statistic shown in the graph above that Google Play Store has more downloads than Apple App Store even though there has been a significant appreciation in these numbers between 2019-2020. Google Play Store grew by an impressive 31%, while Apple App Store grew by 2.5%, which is also an increase but not as impressive as its counterpart, showing that Google Play Store is growing faster.
Note: Are you confused about whether you want your app to be operable on iOS devices or Android devices? Swiftspeedappcreator offers you the luxury of not being in a dilemma by allowing you to simultaneously build both an iOs and Android app so you can launch on both App Stores and get downloads from many users. It increases the scope of your app as both iOs, and Android app users are not technologically marginalized from accessing your app. We make it easy here.
Apple App Store Download Statistics
As we have already compared the two app stores to one another, now it’s time to water down these huge numbers even further and take a closer look at each platform.
Beginning with the Apple App Store download statistics;
Most Popular App Store Categories
In previous parts of this article, I explained that one of the most important factors to be considered in app development and its overall success is understanding the needs of your target populace. If the services your app offers are averse to their needs, believe me, your app will not be patronized.
To understand this, you have to be aware of the types of apps people tend to download the most. Here are the most popular categories on the Apple App Store by share of availability.
As evidenced by the statistical chart above, the gaming category beats all other categories hands down.
However, not every app developer’s services are centered around games. Your app may center on e-commerce or finance, for example, which is a less patronized category compared to the gaming category, this shouldn’t push you as a mobile app developer to develop e-commerce or finance centered app, and you, however, place it in the gaming category to trick unsuspecting users into downloading.
It is against the App Store review guidelines if you don’t pick a category for your app’s primary purpose or niche, and violating these guidelines, terms, and conditions can get your app removed from the App Store, and when this happens, that download you so much yearn for to increase would not even come at all.
In short, do no try to clickbait users into downloading by placing it in a category it doesn’t belong in. Even if your app is in a less patronized or sought-after category, it still doesn’t mean it can’t get significant or many downloads as long as the app satisfies and aligns with the users’ needs. Instead of tricking the unsuspecting users, you could target a less competitive market and monopolize the control of resources in that area.
Apple App Store Availability
Take a look at the number of apps available on the Apple App Store; this brings to question how many apps your apps would be ready to contend with as the competitiveness in the mobile app industry is on the rise and at an all-time high.
There is an astronomical increase in mobile app users now which only makes sense if there’s a corresponding increase in the number of available apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store as more apps are sent to the tech market to cater to the increasing need caused by the increasing numbers.
The question now is: are app download numbers on the rise because more apps are available or an upsurge in the number of apps released? It is hard to pick a side now, but the next segment on Google Play Store Downloads would help understand more.
Google Play Store Availability
After a cursory look at the Apple App Store availability, Now I would like to walk you through the number of apps available for download on the Google Play Store.
As shown in the graph, this graph doesn’t have the same trajectory as the Apple graph for this same category. There was an obvious drop in app availability in 2017. However, the number of apps has been on a steady increase ever since.
Why was there a drop in app availability on Google Play Store?
There was a drop because Google Play Store seemed to be a petri-dish for highly competitive apps. Due to this competitive nature, it introduced the survival of the fittest mechanism. Apps that could stand the test of time remained, while those who couldn’t were lost to the sands of time.
The nexus between Apple App Store Downloads and Google Play Store Downloads is that the availability of apps on the Apple App store is rising every year, but while their download rate is lower compared to the download rate of Google Play Store. From this, it can be deduced that the availability or abundance of varieties of apps isn’t connected to an increase in app downloads.
Most Popular Google Play Store App Categories
The relative success of an app category can be measured based on penetration. According to Statista, these are the app categories with the highest penetration rate among Android users in descending other of percentages.
- Communication — 99.93%
- Tools — 99.81%
- Video Players & Edit— 96.63%
- Business — 99.33%
- Travel & Local — 95.7%
- Social — 95.02%
- Productivity — 91.67%
- Music & Audio — 88.38%
- Entertainment — 83.85%
- News & Magazines — 81.11%
- Photography — 75.77%
- Books & Reference — 70.74%
- Lifestyle — 65.67%
- Personalization — 61.62%
- Games (Casual) — 58.86%
- Games (Puzzle) — 56.5%
- Games (Arcade) — 55.08%
- Shopping — 35.79%
- Games (Action) — 34.19%
- Weather — 32.46%
Some of these categories do not need to be taken with iron gloves as the case may be. For example, look at the top categories on the list. Those apps are (such as communication apps) likely to have come pre-loaded on all Android devices.
Preloaded apps aside, this list is a good indication of what types of apps Android users download (apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat, Netflix, TikTok, Spotify, and Tinder).
However, just because an app has been installed on a device, it doesn’t mean that it’s being used. This concept would be further discussed to understanding when we explore app usage statistics.
Mobile App Usage
The segment above describes how users across the world download apps, it’s time to analyze how people are using mobile apps.
An average smartphone user spends 32 hours and 10 minutes each day using their device. About 2 hours and 51 minutes of this time is spent on apps (apps account for roughly 90% of smartphone usage).
Research shows that there are 80+ apps installed on the average smartphone. But with that said, it doesn’t portend that all these apps are put to use all the time or on a daily basis.
Research has shown that an average person uses 9 mobile apps per day and 30 mobile apps in a month and as evidenced that 80+ apps is present on an average smartphone user’s phone, this means that 62%, more than half of these apps are not used at all in one month.
This means people are downloading apps and they aren’t using them like they are supposed to and as a matter of fact 25% of mobile apps are used only once after being downloaded and most likely never used again.
Mobile App Usage Surge and Depletion
If you are in the mobile app creation industry, as a developer you would understand this concept of usage surge and depletion in mobile app usage after downloads. Many users after downloading an app may not use it anymore as evidenced in the previous section above.
At first, once a new mobile app saunters into the market, the usage would skyrocket but over time it decreases drastically thus making it difficult for the developer to make as much money as it did at the onset. From the section above, it is evident that app download doesn’t guarantee usage.
This concept of app usage surge and depletion is termed “retention and churn” shown by the statistic below
The above graph shows the average app retention and churn for a period of three months. For the first month there is a 57% churn (depletion in use) and 43% retention but it is observed that as the months increased the churn rates increased by 66% and 71% respectively while retention reduced by 34% and 29% drastically.
It is however imperative to understand that you cannot have a 100% percent retention rate, hence you have to devise new ways to come up with new downloads and also prevent the existing users from losing interest in using your app. Hence, updating and improving app features are instrumental to ensuring app usage rates are considerably high while keeping the churn rate at a barest minimum.
These essential apps are apps categorized on the basis of how important and how used they are by an average person.
Looking at this list, it shows there are elements of validity in it as the apps actually show the most used apps on the basis of necessity;
For people planning to build new mobile apps, I won’t be realistic to advise you to build an app that would aim to stand shoulder to shoulder with any of these apps in the market. I mean, it is not bad to build an app that wants to compete and be the next top social media app like Twitter and Whatsapp but it would be a herculean task.
There’s no harm in aiming for the stars but it wouldn’t be an easy brawl with such a top app in the long run so I won’t advise that.
Apple and Android Global Expenditures
There are clear discrepancies between Android and Apple devices in terms of device specification and other features but also in terms of usage and downloads, those discrepancies still exist. This is because the users of both devices aren’t the same.
In the third quarter of 2020, statistics show:
- Google Play Store Gross App Revenue stands at $10.3 billion
- Apple App Store Gross App Revenue stands at $19 billion
The statistical numbers represent spendings on paid app downloads, subscriptions and in-app purchases. Despite the smaller market controlled by the Apple users in comparison with Android users, they still spend more money. It may however be a marketing strategy that as you aim at making your app attractive to all users, you will have a upper-hand with iOS users buying premium upgrades on your app and in-app purchases.
Mobile App Usage and Age
Technology usage is greatly influenced by age and generation as the needs technology serves to fulfill in the last 2 decades is different from the needs it is serving now.
It may be common knowledge that the younger generations spend more time on technological devices and that assumption would have been very correct. It gives a cue to app creators that they should tailor their resources into suiting the needs of this particular age group.
However, it has to be noted that other age groups cannot be completely ignored as they also possess considerable influence and use of technology. As the graph above shows, people between the ages of 45-54 spend about 1 hour and 15 minutes per day using mobile apps. That’s just 27 minutes less than people in the 25-34 age range.
Mobile App Usage and Device
Different mobile apps are created differently as they usually have OS that distinguishes them from other types of mobile devices, hence app usage varies greatly by the type of mobile app used.
App Usage of Smartphones
The usage of smartphones is greatly influenced by the digital content that using one offers the user. There are different app categories that smartphone users turn to which influences the usage.
In the United States, research has shown that digital use of maps came from smartphones. Also, more than 80% of digital weather content came from smartphones too. This is because people need to access weather content to prepare for a snowy, rainy, or sunny day and would also need the digital maps to find their way around places hence the statistic is in tandem with the American reality.
Smart Phones and Tablets
There are obvious differences between Tablets and Smartphones as evidenced by size, OS, brand, and other specifications.
Research has shown that there is twice the number of smartphones worldwide than tablets (2.7 billion vs. 1.35 billion) but tablet usage is gradually gaining a strong foot among people in competition with smartphones.
From the image above, it is obvious that more apps are downloaded on smartphones and more smartphones app are used in a month more than tablets but tablets are not lagging so much. The reason for this may be explained by the fact that smartphones are more portable and are within easy reach compared to tablets.
Usage of Tablets
Tablets have more specialized uses in comparison with smartphones who may be considered to have a wide spectrum of uses and this may account for why there are more smartphone users than tablet users.
One of the most specialized uses of tablets is reflected in the image above is the use of gaming apps followed closely by social media apps then followed with TV, Videos, etc. This could possibly portend that tablet users are more likely to pay for gaming apps, in-app game purchases, etc.
Mobile App Usage by Country
The usage of apps varies with location as the same with other concepts because different areas have varying societal needs.
App Downloads by Country
In the last four years, the number of app download has grown by 80% in China but other countries such as India, Indonesia, and Brazil have considerably high growth rates.
Monthly App Usage in Hours
The image above shows that the statement proposing that India has more app downloads is corroborated by this image showing that as app downloads in India rise as if on steroids, it would mean that time spent using on the apps too would increase.
Apple Store and Google Play Downloads Worldwide
This segment hopes to compare the downloads between Apple Store iOS devices and Google Play Android devices in the world. Android dominates a large share of the mobile app market hence, most downloads would invariably come from the Google Play Store.
The graph shows that there is a close to 50%/50% tie in the US in-app downloads. In countries like Japan, the Apple App Store completely controls the market share while in India, Indonesia, and other places.
Mobile apps constitute an integral aspect of people’s lives and the statistics analyzed so far in this article have shown that there would continue to be an upward movement in the trajectories which would invariably influence mobile app development and their market in years to come.
This is why it is imperative for emerging mobile app developers and existing ones need to stay abreast and au courant with the recent trends and researches in the mobile app industry.
This article should give you insight and guidance into understanding the mobile app industry in terms of download preference, download usage perspective, and how to tilt the balance in your favor.
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