Digest: Mobile app market in 2021

The growth rate of the mobile app market is not going to slow down or stabilize. The pandemic continues to influence trends in user preferences, the workspace paradigm shift, the remote workflow, and entertainment restrictions all continue to form a constant growth and provoke further growth in the mobile market segment.

If the mobile app market segment is of interest to you, we offer the main metrics and indicators of changes for 2021(remember, the 2020 report is also available on our blog). Since the start of the pandemic, there have been significant changes in the behavior of consumers around the world that caused participants in all verticals to rethink their business models. As we all began to adapt to the new reality, it became clear how important digital transformation has become.

Mobile Application Market 2021

App revenue growth trends have continued into 2021, traditionally Google Play boasts a large number of applications, a large number of downloads, but in terms of revenue, iOS firmly holds a leading position.

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The rate of new apps is showing an interesting uptick, with a slight decline in 2020.

We will assume that this is the right trend, as a reaction to the massive digitalization of not only business but also all areas of user life. The world in the palm of your hand can now be replaced by the world in your smartphone - personal, communication, business, education, and sports, all through apps and games.

The interests of users were also interestingly distributed in the context of Top categories by downloads:

  • Casual and Tools categories lead on Google Play while
  • the App Store is dominated by Arcade and Action category downloads.

Google Play vs App Store Downloads and Revenue - Categories and Countries

The most downloaded app for the two stores was Instagram. Interests further divided - Android users preferred to install communication apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram. iOS users have given their preference to Youtube and Facebook.

Interestingly, app downloads are seasonal - the most active period in 2021 was fall, both for Andriod and iOS.

In terms of developers, the most profitable categories were Casual and Role Playing for Google Play, Role Playing, and Strategy for the App Store.

In terms of Top profitable applications, the situation is different for the two platforms:

Coin Master and Google One topped the list of the most profitable Android apps. For iOS apps, Youtube was not only the most downloaded by users but also the most profitable. Next comes Tinder. It is interesting to note that TikTok only made it to the top 10 for the App Store, which further supports the notion that there are different user behaviors between the two stores.

The global mobile market in Top Countries by Google Play Downloads, both in the games and apps category, is led by India with 12.26 billion downloads (Apps) and 11.4 billion (Games). The US and Brazil come in second and third, depending on the category.

But the geography of downloads for iOS games and app is different from Android. Here, both in games and in applications, the Top 5 looks exactly the same:

1 - USA

2 - Japan

3 - UK

4 - Brazil

5 - Russia

Revenue of the countries is quite different from downloads, with the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea leading the rankings for Android apps and games.

And iOS apps and games show the highest rates of revenue in the US, Japan, the UK, and Germany.

Overall, games outperform in % of app downloads for both Google Play and the App Store.

And in terms of revenue, the situation is similar.

Let's sum up 2021

The global crisis caused by the pandemic has once again NOT affected the mobile app market. In 2021, the installation set another record and increased by more than 18% compared to 2020.

Downloads vs Revenue

Despite the fact that the number of downloads of applications from Google Play is more than 2 times higher than the number of downloads from the App Store, the palm of profit, as always, is borne by iOS app developers.

Geography of the mobile app market

Although India is the leader in terms of downloads for both platforms, the mobile industry has achieved the largest revenue growth at the expense of the US, Japan, UK, and China markets. It is also worth noting that since July, the growth of downloads and revenues in both markets has continued uninterruptedly.

*China is not included in the report, but it is worth noting that it is in the top 4 profitable markets.

Mobile games are still in trend

Users are moving more and more entertainment and games from desktop to mobile devices. The mobile gaming industry experienced its biggest surge during the lockdown in 2020. But 2021 has been no less dynamic. Mobile games tightly occupy the top three places in the most profitable categories for both Android and iOS devices. It is in games that more than 65% of the total profit of the mobile app market is concentrated.

Social life

Social networks are still top in terms of the number of downloads. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are among the top 10 popular apps on both Google Play and the App Store. Among social applications, TikTok is worth noting, the popularity of which continues to grow exponentially.

Among the dating apps, Tinder remains the undisputed leader, ranking among the top most profitable iOS apps every month.

Streaming, food, fitness and health

Health & Fitness: In 2021, health and fitness app downloads are down sharply from their peak in 2020 in most countries. But nevertheless, many users continue to use apps to maintain a healthy lifestyle and deal with stress.

Forecasts for 2022

Streaming services will continue to grow. Series such as The Lord of the Rings and the Game of Thrones prequel have already been announced for 2022. So there is no doubt that users will spend more and more time watching their favorite series, and streaming platforms will continue to invest huge budgets in content creation. Travel and flight booking apps are also expected to grow to at least 2019 levels. A positive trend is evidenced by the lifting of restrictions by some European countries, as well as the level of vaccination. We predict that by the end of the year, most countries will relax coronavirus restrictions, allowing travel to return to its pre-lockdown levels. Against the backdrop of the hype with the metaverse, we should expect the growth of applications related to virtual reality. We also forecast a boom in NFT-related applications in the first half of the year. And of course, like the last few years, machine learning and artificial intelligence remain in trend. There is no doubt that in the competitive mobile app market, personalization is the future: assistants, voice assistants, personal selections.

We are confident that the economy and management of in-app purchases will come to the fore. More and more applications will try to move users to a subscription.

The widespread adoption of 5G will push consumer expectations to new heights in terms of digital product quality, cloud adoption, or the ability to use apps across countries, across multiple devices.

Privacy Trends - Changes since the iOS 15 update have resulted in stricter restrictions on user data. Attribution, ad tracking, and IDFA-based retargeting are becoming less accurate, and app marketers will have to come to terms with the changes and adapt to the new reality, as well as pay more attention to ASO app optimization.

Some interesting facts - the following trends influence the dynamics of the mobile app market:

  • Not only is the number of downloads and money spent growing, but so is the average time an app is used.
  • The global smartphone market grew by 5.7% to 1.35 billion units.
  • Every fourth smartphone user spends more than 7 hours with it (according to Counterpoint Research

No one is talking about the future of mobile devices, we already live in it. Let's not miss the opportunities that are currently available for growth, development, and investment.

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