Last Updated: April 2, 2021
Mobile apps make the world go round today. Given how often we make use of one of the many apps on our phones and tablets to shop, read, play, listen to music, communicate, order food, book travel tickets, find answers to questions, and a lot else, it can be difficult to imagine how recent a phenomenon they are. As the app usage statistics compiled below show, the ubiquity of these neatly packed applications in our lives will only keep growing in the near future with app revenues inching close to $200 billion within the next two-three years.
Therefore, whether you are a general user, developer, or marketer, being up to date on the key trends from the fascinating world of apps is essential. For easy reading, we have categorized all the information you need on this subject coming into 2021 under clear headings, beginning with some important points related to the number of apps available at and downloaded from the top app stores.
But, first, let’s check out some of the most impressive app usage statistics.
- The number of smartphone users around the world was predicted to hit 3.5 billion by the end of 2020.
- Both Google Play Store and the Apple App Store had a combined 33.6 billion app downloads in Q1 of 2020.
- TikTok is the most downloaded non-gaming app.
- In 2020, the average smartphone user had 40 apps installed on their mobile phone.
- The mobile app market was predicted to generate up to $581.9 billion in revenue by the end of 2020.
- 18 to 24-year-olds spent 66% of their digital media time using smartphone apps.
- 87% of smartphone users spend their mobile time on apps.
- The global mobile gaming market was set to reach $165.9 billion by the end of 2020.
These are some impressive numbers, right?
Let’s have a look at what else we have in store for you, starting with the latest data from 2021.
Impressive App Usage Statistics for 2021
The question of how much time people spend on apps today still remains.
Also, how many apps are out there in 2021?
The following app usage stats for 2021 will throw light on these questions.
1. The number of smartphone users around the world was predicted to hit 3.5 billion by the end of 2020.
The world population is currently pegged at 7.8 billion, of which 4.78 billion are mobile phone owners. 73.2% of these 4.78 billion mobile phone owners own smartphones. Smartphones paved the way for mobile apps to flourish, and ever since, there has been no turning back. This follows as billions of apps continue to be developed and released into the market annually.
2. Both Google Play Store and the Apple App Store had a combined 33.6 billion app downloads in Q1 of 2020.
In 2017, total app downloads were 178 billion, with both Google Play Store and Apple App Store combining to produce the bulk of the downloads (94.12 billion). By 2019, total app downloads had hit 204 billion for the year, and again, both app stores combined to produce a stunning 114.9 billion of those downloads, as revealed by app usage statistics.
Fast forward to 2020, with the pandemic creating more idle time for people as they remain at home, both stores have maintained the same momentum, recording the highest number of downloads ever achieved in a quarter.
3. In March 2020, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app with over 115.2 million installs.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
According to statistics on mobile app usage for 2020, app usage has been on the rise, mainly due to the coronavirus-induced pandemic. Apps like Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., have experienced this first-hand. TikTok, in particular, registered a jaw-breaking 315 million downloads on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store in Q1 2020. This number excludes other third-party app stores, which may have likely increased its number of downloads even further.
4. The mobile app market was said to generate up to $581.9 billion in revenue by the end of 2020.
The mobile app industry makes billions of dollars in revenue yearly and this has been the trend for some years now. In 2019, the total revenue generated was $462 billion, and the year before that, it was $365.2 billion. The gaming industry remains the most significant revenue contributor to the mobile app industry in 2021. According to mobile app revenue statistics for 2021, entertainment apps, social and networking apps, and photo and video sharing apps also make the list of top revenue contributors.
5. The global mobile gaming market was set to reach $165.9 billion by the end of 2020.
(Source: Business 2 Business)
App usage statistics for 2021 show that for years, the gaming industry has remained the top revenue contributor to the mobile app industry. It is showing no sign of slowing down soon. In 2019, the gaming industry was valued at $151.9 billion and could rise even further as more people shift to gaming as a preferred means of entertainment.
Factors like in-app purchases, subscriptions, paid advertising, and sponsorships have ensured the continued profitability of the mobile gaming industry.
6. 70% of mobile app users will abandon an app if it is taking too long to load.
(Source: Think Storage Now)
53% of your site visitors will leave if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
What about apps?
Same thing. If your app takes a whole lot of time to load, now is the best time to put in the effort and ensure a faster load time. Anything beyond a few seconds and chances of you losing some percentage of your customers begin to set in.
7. In 2020, the average smartphone user had 40 apps installed on their mobile phone.
In spite of this number, reports have it that a whopping 89% of smartphone users’ time is spent on just 18 apps. According to app usage statistics, for Millenials, that number rises to 67 apps, with only 25 commonly used apps. 55% of businesses owned by Millenials have a mobile app of their own.
Apps Downloads Statistics
The world of mobile apps is fascinating. The numbers are getting bigger by the day.
8. Consumers are expected to download 258.2B mobile apps in 2022.
In 2017, consumers downloaded 178.1 billion mobile apps worldwide to their connected devices. This figure was on track to surpass 205 billion in 2018. The wider availability of smart devices as well as increasing competition in the app development market is expected to drive this impressive growth. This data also helps answer how many apps are downloaded in a day (about 700 million).
9. Global app downloads across the Apple App Store and Google Play surpassed 113B in 2018.
(Source: App Annie)
The two largest and most popular markets for mobile apps account for a little over 55% of all app downloads. The total download figure for these two stores is an increase of 10% over 2017.
10. The cumulative number of apps downloaded from the Apple App Store reached 180B in 2017.
Apple App Store was created in 2008, and, since then, there has been a consistent upward curve in the cumulative number of downloaded apps. By June 2017, which is the last reported period by Apple, 180 billion apps had been downloaded. This means that, between June 2016 and June 2017, 50 billion apps were downloaded, while between June 2015 and June 2016, this number was 30 billion. Of course, these figures include native iPad apps also. The corresponding figures for Google Play are not available, but can be expected to be much higher.
11. There were about 3.2M apps available for download in the Apple App Store in 2018.
(Source: Statista, Statista)
Of these, 811,911 were gaming apps. In the list of the most popular app categories in 2019, gaming comes at the top, followed by business, education, and lifestyle in that order. The corresponding figure for July 2017 was 3.12 million apps, of which about 783,000 were gaming apps. The rate of addition of new apps to the App Store seems to have been slowing down since 2016. Interestingly, by Q3 2018, the number of apps had come down to 2M.
12. There were over 2.6M apps available for download in Google Play in December 2018.
According to Android app statistics, Google Play has seen a decrease of nearly 28% since reaching the peak of about 3.6 million apps in March 2018. This has been attributed to Google’s efforts to remove low-quality apps, among other factors, though the actual reasons haven’t been disclosed by the company. The majority of the apps in the Play Store are available free of charge, requiring a more effective business model to secure a healthy revenue.
13. There were about 450K mobile apps available for download in the Amazon Appstore in 2018.
The Amazon Appstore, a relatively new competitor in the mobile apps market, has been gradually shoring up the number of apps it offers for Amazon devices. The Q3 figure (452,054) represented a 1.96% growth from the previous quarter and a 20% increase from Q3 2017. The Amazon Appstore does not only offer Android apps but also apps specifically optimized for its range of Kindle Fire tablets as well as the Fire TV and Fire Phone.
14. The top 3 apps stores in terms of the number of apps available in are Google Play, the Apple App Store, and the Windows Store.
Google Play and the Apple App Store led the competition by a huge margin with 2.1 million and 2 million apps in Q3 2018, respectively. Windows Store offered 669,000 apps against Amazon Appstore’s 450,000 and BlackBerry World’s 234,500. The fact that mobile apps are relatively easier to create than computer apps, as well as their considerable lower price has translated into a growing industry which produces every year more and more, prompting the occasional steps by app stores to remove the least popular ones.
General Facts about Apps
From gaming to social media to e-commerce, mobile apps are becoming more and more important.
15. Gaming was the most popular category in Google Play Store in Q3 2018 with 7.21B download.
Gaming apps have not only maintained their top rank in Google Play but also increased their share in the total downloads. Tools were the next most popular category with 1.45 billion downloads, followed by Entertainment (1.37 billion), Communication (1.1 billion), and Photography (0.95 billion).
16. Gaming was also the most popular category in the Apple App Store in Q3 2018 with 2.27B downloads.
However, unlike Google Play, the second rank in the Apple App Store was bagged by photo and video apps, which saw 193 million average app downloads per month during Q3 2018.
17. The average overall price of apps in the Apple App Store as of September 2018 was $0.89.
If we were to divide the Apple App Store apps into gaming and non-gaming categories, the average price for the former category would be $0.49 and that for the latter category would be $1.02. Gaming apps are the most popular iOS apps, accounting for more than 23% of all available apps. According to app usage statistics, the majority of mobile apps are free to download.
18. After Google, the leading non-gaming app publisher in Google Play is Facebook.
Given the social network’s ubiquity, this hardly comes as a surprise. WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, comes at the third position, followed by Microsoft, musical.ly, and Instagram, another service owned by Facebook.
19. Nearly 35% of millennials consider Amazon the most essential mobile app.
The conventional narrative about 18-34 year-olds is that they can’t live without social networking and communication apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. However, a recent survey related to mobile app usage demographics shows that Amazon, the shopping app, is what many young users can’t do without, with nearly half of them keeping the app on their home screens. Gmail (30%) and Facebook (29%) follow close behind.
20. The top app by worldwide downloads in 2018 is Facebook Messenger.
(Source: App Annie)
Based on preliminary data through 15th December 2018 from iOS and Google app stores, the top apps by worldwide downloads for 2018 are Facebook Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp Messenger, Tik Tok, and Instagram, in that order. The top gaming apps are Helix Jump, Subway Surfers, PUBG MOBILE, Free Fire, and Love Balls.
21. The top app by worldwide consumer spend in 2018 is Netflix.
(Source: App Annie)
Based on preliminary mobile app download statistics through 15th December 2018 from iOS and Google app stores, the top apps by worldwide consumer spend for 2018 are Netflix, Tinder, Tencent Video, iQIYI, and Pandora Music, in that order. The top gaming apps are Fate/Grand Order, Honour of Kings, Monster Strike, Candy Crush Saga, and Lineage M.
Apps Revenue and Marketing Statistics
Even free apps can be a multi-billion business opportunity. Here are some stats to prove it.
22. Apple’s App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play Store in H1 2018.
The gross app revenue for Apple’s App Store in H1 2018 was $22.6 billion compared to $11.8 billion for Google’s Play Store. For Apple, this was a 26.8% increase from H1 2017 ($17.8 billion) and for Google, this was a 29.7% increase from H1 2017 ($9.1 billion). Interestingly, Apple’s revenue was almost twice that of Google on the back of just half the downloads.
23. Consumer spending on games represented roughly 77% of the total gross app revenue for Apple and Google in H1 2018.
Consumer spending on games grew 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to $26.6 billion across both stores, representing roughly 78 percent of the total spent ($16.3 billion on the App Store and $10.3 billion on Google Play). This means that, for Google, game spending accounted for 87% of the gross app revenue.
24. The mobile app market size was projected to hit $189B by 2020.
In 2016, global mobile app revenues amounted to $88.3 billion. Combined revenues of app store purchases and in-app advertising was expected to take this figure to $188.9 billion by 2020. A close to 114% increase in just 4 years might sound unrealistic, but this is a reflection of how important a role mobile apps play in every aspect of consumers’ lives along with the increasing comfort of users worldwide in making in-app purchases.
25. About 45% of mobile app revenue was expected from the APAC region.
While the APAC region has dominated worldwide mobile app revenues compared to the Americas and EMEA even in the last few years, its share in the overall $189 billion pie was expected to increase to 45% by 2020. Apps stats show that it currently accounts for a little over 41%. The Americas were estimated to account for about 39% of the worldwide revenue in 2020.
26. 60% more apps are expected to monetize through in-app advertising in 2019.
(Source: App Annie)
Mobile has taken over a large share of advertising spend and is the predominant growth factor behind digital ad spend. In 2018, mobile will account for 62% of global digital ad spend, representing $155 billion, up from 50% in 2017. In 2019, 60% more apps will monetize through in-app ads. This will increase competition among advertisers.
27. Worldwide consumer spending on mobile gaming is expected to be nearly $90B in 2019.
(Source: App Annie)
Driven by expansion in the casual and hardcore ends of the spectrum, mobile gaming is expected to grow to take up 60% share of the worldwide gaming market by 2019 (up from about 25% in 2013). Already in 2018, games like Fortnite and PUBG, aided by upgraded smartphone specs, drove mobile multiplayer game mechanics to come at par with real-time strategy and shooter games on PC/Mac and Consoles. 5G, along with improved battery life, stands to help with advancements in mobile gaming, but it is still too early for a material impact on mobile app usage in 2019.
28. 94% of App Store revenue in the US goes to just 1% of publishers.
(Source: Cult of Mac)
This data point shows how difficult it is to make money on the App Store, except for a select few. Publishers in the top 1% include Supercell, creator of Clash of Clans and Boom Beach; Machine Zone, creator of Game of War and iMob Online; Netflix; Spotify; and HBO.
29. Mobile apps have higher engagement rates than mobile-optimized websites or desktop web viewing, and 100-300% higher conversion rates.
While it helps to have mobile-optimized websites, according to recent mobile app vs mobile website statistics, when it comes to user engagement and conversion, mobile apps beat even an efficiently optimized website. With a difference in conversion rates of almost 300%, it is obvious that investing in a useful app can help you reap substantial benefits in the long run.
30. 42% of small businesses have their own mobile app.
Mobile apps can boost customer loyalty, brand image, and employee efficiency. But any business needs to truly understand the inputs needed to build and maintain a successful app. This is particularly true for small businesses that tend to have limited resources.
31. 83% of B2B marketers say mobile apps were important to content marketing.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
B2B commerce is also moving at a healthy pace on to mobile devices. The basic strategies are no different from what marketers will use in B2C commerce, and in fact many new technologies are being used in this context first to reshape the purchase pathway.
Apps Usage Trends
App usage is growing all over the world. Some users tend to open a single app ten times a day.
32. Only about 65% of smartphone users in the US have gaming apps on their phones.
Despite gaming being the most popular app category, smartphone apps statistics show that, as of July 2018, only 65.7% of users in the US have even one gaming app on their phones. The three most commonly found categories are communication & social (97.9%), web browsers (97.3%), and utilities & tools (95.6%). Other categories ranking about games include shopping, news & weather, travel, and finance.
33. 21% of downloaded apps worldwide are accessed only once during the first 6 months of ownership.
Since 2011, this figure has hovered in the low 20s. This is an indication that number of downloads isn’t always a sign of an app’s utility or an app store’s popularity. Nearly a quarter of all apps, especially free ones, are downloaded, used once, and then ignored till they get uninstalled to create memory space for a new download.
34. Close to 40% of all smartphone users say social media apps are their most frequently used.
(Source: The Manifest, MindSea)
39% of all smartphone users surveyed for a study on mobile app usage in 2018 listed social media apps as their most frequently used, followed by gaming (10%), messaging (10%), and retail (7%) apps. Thus, between social media and messaging apps, nearly 50% of all smartphone users use apps mostly to communicate with friends and acquaintances. The use of social media and messaging apps is much higher among millennials.
35. 20% of mobile app usage time in the US is spent on social networking.
Another indication of the popularity of social networking apps is that users spend more time on them than on any other categories of apps. The next three categories are music, multimedia, and gaming, with instant messaging ranking a distant sixth.
36. 42% of online shoppers use shopping or communication apps after a shopping session.
The app usage statistics are slightly different when a smartphone user is involved in a shopping session. 23.3% of users in this case continue on shopping apps and 18.9% use communication and social app, presumably to tell their friends about their purchase.
37. About half of the smartphone users in the US do not download even a single app in a month.
According to a survey of US smartphone users in June 2017, 51% of users hadn’t downloaded a single app in the previous one month and only 13% had downloaded one app. At the other end of the spectrum were 17% users who had downloaded 4 or more apps.
38. Nearly half of smartphone users open apps more than 10 times a day, about 8% do so more than 50 times.
(Source: Mobile App Daily)
Irrespective of whether the engagement is with one app or many, what is interesting about this set of app usage stats is that only 51% of smartphone users open an app 10 times or less in a day. For 25%, the frequency is 11 to 20 times in a day; for 16%, it is 21 to 50 times; for 6%, 51 to 100 times, and for 2%, incredibly enough, more than 100 times in one day.
39. People in the 18-44 age group spend more than 50% of their digital time on mobile apps.
This figure is even higher at 66% in the 18-24 age brackets. Users in this age group also spend an additional 4% of digital time on tablet apps. With increasing age, the likelihood of spending more time on a desktop or laptop increases.
40. Mobile users spend 87% of their usage time in apps.
Mobile app vs mobile website statistics skew substantially in the former’s favor, with only 13% of the time spent on mobiles devoted to web surfing. While the need to be mobile responsive is clearly understood by marketers today, this major skew towards app usage should encourage businesses to invest in meaningful apps of their own.
41. The average smartphone user in the US spent 3 hours each day on apps in 2018.
(Source: App Annie, Comscore)
Mobile is taking over a greater share of consumer’s time in 2018 than ever before. The 3-hour average daily app usage time is an increase of 10% over 2017 and 20% over 2016. For the younger demographic (18 to 24 year-olds), the average time spent on apps is closer to 3.2 hours every day.
42. Mobile websites get more unique visitors, but visitors spend more time on apps.
A comparison of the top 500 mobile websites and the top 500 mobile apps shows that the former receive about 8.7 million more unique visitors each month. However, mobile device usage stats also show that the average time spent by each visitor is about 16 times higher on mobile apps than on mobile websites.
43. Smartphone users use 9 to 10 apps daily on average, 30 apps over a month.
According to a report from App Annie, smartphone users were spending more time on apps in 2017 than in the previous years, when 5 apps were used daily. The 30 apps accessed regularly on a monthly basis are about one-third to one-half of all the apps installed on their phones. This trend also has a name – the 30:10 rule (30 apps in a month, 10 per day).
44. iPhone users tend to use slightly more apps than Android users.
According to iPhone app usage stats, the Apple App Store apps get used slightly more often than those from the Play Store. However, Android users tend to use over 30% more games than iPhone users.
45. The most popular app accounts for less than 20% of app usage time.
Though there were minor variations among the trends from the nine countries studied, it was found that over 80% of app usage took place in apps that were outside of the top app in that country. This means that even though apps like Facebook and WhatsApp dominate, there’s still plenty of user time to go around.
46. Total time spent in video streaming apps is expected to grow by 110% from 2016 to 2019.
(Source: App Annie)
A key trend of mobile app usage in 2019 will be that 10 minutes of every hour spent consuming media across TV and internet will come from individuals streaming video on mobile. Global consumer spending in entertainment apps will grow 520%, fueled largely by in-app subscriptions in video streaming apps.
47. Google Play has nearly twice as many app publishers as there are on the Apple App Store
(Source: Business of Apps)
The number of publishers in each app store reveals its adoption rate and how attractive and lucrative for app developers a specific store is. Even though the App Store continues its domination in terms of gross app revenue, according to latest available figures, Google Play Store has far more registered publishers (967,000) compared to App Store (499,000). This is partly driven by the much higher level of adoption of Android in China and India.
48. Millennials are three times more likely to be excited about new mobile apps and features than older users.
In keeping with the trends seen in mobile app usage by age, about 70% of millennials are more likely to be on the lookout for new apps. 66% also wish there they could do more with apps. On the other hand, about 70 to 75% of users in the 55+ age group seem to be satisfied with the apps they have and don’t actively look for new ones.
49. Millennials are much more likely to pay for mobile apps compared to 35+ users.
According to a 2017 survey of US smartphone users, 80% in the 55+ age group and 66% in the 35-54 age group admitted to not purchasing a single app in the previous year. In contrast, 64% users among millennials had purchased at least one app, with 19% averaging one app per month.
50. In 2017, 70% millennials made more than 1 in-app purchase, compared to just 21% in the 55+ age group.
Mobile app user statistics show that millennials are more comfortable making in-app purchases, than they are buying apps. According to the same survey, almost 50% of US millennials made 5 or more in-app purchases in 2017. This figure was just 15% for users aged 35 to 54 and a measly 5% for users aged 55 and above.
51. 21% of millennials deleted a mobile app because the app logo didn’t appeal to them.
(Source: Comscore, MindSea)
Millennials app users are a lot more finicky when it comes to the look and feel of the app (based on app usage stats), while the functionality and benefits seem to be enough for most older users. Investing time and effort in logo design is therefore critical. According to another study, the most popular color for general apps is blue, while red is the color of choice when it comes to food and beverage-related apps. Perhaps some companies need a better logo maker to retain their users.
52. 18% of smartphone users move an app to the home screen because of its looks.
There are more important reasons for moving an app to the home screen, of course, including frequent usage (61%), easier access (54%), and the need to open the app quickly (49%). However, as another reminder that the appearance of the logo is important, there are many who choose to bring an app to the home screen because it looks good. Mobile app usage statistics indicate that the likelihood of an app being opened is higher if it is on the home screen, which makes it all the more important to get the logo right.
53. 74% of millennials resort to opening an app when they are bored.
Not just this, 76% of millennials, according to a 2017 survey of US smartphone users, would find their phones useless if there weren’t any apps on it and 63% confess to feeling the need to check app notifications immediately. These figures are significantly lower for older age groups, indicating the high dependence of young users not just on their phones but on the apps they have downloaded.
54. 43% of smartphone users agree to app requests to allow push notifications.
In keeping with general app usage stats, the likelihood of smartphone users, in general, to allow push notifications from apps has also gone up in recent times. 24% of users often agree to the app requests, while 19% do it always. The combined figure is an increase of 16% from the number of users who agreed to app notification requests often or always in 2016.
55. Data usage is the prime factor for 37% of millennials in deciding if they like an app.
In their answer to a query regarding the factors that help them decide if an app is worth keeping, 37% of millennials listed excessive data usage as a dealbreaker. Even though data plans are getting better, for millennials, who form the target audience for many apps, the negative of very high data usage can trump any positives of functionality or design. An example mentioned is Pokemon Go, which got frequently deleted, despite its popularity, because of the data it kept eating up.
56. 25% of smartphone users delete apps because of a lack of storage space.
While app usage statistics point towards a few other important reasons why users delete apps like low utility, almost a quarter of the users in this survey also cited large app size as being an important reason. Many apps tend to bloat up because they want to offer features even when the phone is offline (like dictionaries for language-learning apps), but there is a fine line between providing critical offline components and making the app too big, which app developers should keep in mind.
- Sensor Tower
- Business 2 Business
- Think Storage Now (pdf)
- App Annie
- App Annie
- Cult of Mac
- Content Marketing Institute
- Mobile App Daily
- App Annie
- Business of Apps