Consumer spending on mobile apps skyrocketed in 2020 for obvious reasons. After all, there was little any of us had to do at the time other than sit staring at our phones. In 2021, it continued to rise, with consumers spending an incredible $170 billion on mobile apps. That represented a year on year increase of 18 percent. Not only did it show that our hunger for apps remained unsatiated, it also demonstrated that we are far more willing to pay for mobile apps than we were a few years ago.
There are at least 10 million mobile apps in existence – the last serious study to come up with a number estimated the total at just under nine million in 2020. Of course, many of these disappear into history with only a handful of downloads. Others get swamped due to lack of volume – for example, how many email apps do we need? The industry has found a neat way of countering the noise and ensuring the apps that really matter float to the top. This is by examining those apps that generated $1 million or more in their first year. When we take this perspective, two thirds of the apps fall into the top five categories – and one category dwarfs the rest.
Games – 37 percent
Over a third of all apps that generate $1 million or more in their first year are games. Mobile games have come a long way since the days of Solitaire and Snake on our Nokias. But even that genesis hinted at the shape of things to come. Games were no longer for kids, suddenly grown adults were whiling away idle moments with a quick card game.
Today, of course it is on a much larger scale. iGaming covers everything from sports betting apps in the USA to real money apps for online pokies in Australia and more people than ever are placing a bet online using their mobile devices. The global iGaming industry generates more than $50 billion revenue every year, a figure that is expected to treble by 2030.
Social Networking – 11 percent
More than half the inhabitants of the planet use one social network or another, with Facebook comfortably ahead of the pack. An incredible 98 percent of Facebook users access the network from mobile devices. Interestingly, that number drops to 80 percent for LinkedIn. Nevertheless, it shows that across social networks, mobile is the rule and desktop the exception.
Entertainment – 10 percent
We increasingly turn to our phones for entertainment instead of TV. This is reflected in the kind of entertainment apps that are the biggest mobile money spinners. Yes, Netflix and Prime Video are up there, but the major players are the likes of YouTube and Tencent Video.
Health and fitness – seven percent
The temporary closure of gyms in 2020 led to a boom in mobile fitness apps. And with the difficulties that those times presented, mental wellness apps like Headspace also saw a surge in demand.