The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year where the world’s population locked itself indoors to ward off COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year will also be remembered as the year that smartphones became one of the few tools for communication, playing games, downloading apps and accessing news and information in most countries around the world.
The year welcomed more downloads than ever before, with apps specifically focusing on influencing user discovery.
According to U.S.-based analytics firm App Annie, during 2020, time spent on mobile surged at 4.2 hours on Android, which amounted to 3.5 trillion hours in total, a figure up by 20 percent and 25 percent respectively from 2019.
“The world has forever changed. While people stay at home across the world, we saw mobile habits accelerate by three years,” said Theodore Krantz, Chief Executive Officer of App Annie.
Cohesive brand and reputation, combined with a seamlessly connected user experience, continues to drive new user acquisition in an increasingly competitive market.
As the year elapsed, demand for new apps and games consistently jumped seven percent YoY, reaching 218 billion download globally. This increase can be determined by consumers migrating more of their physical needs onto mobile, as spending hit new heights at $143 billion.
“37 percent of app users we surveyed reported they found a new app through a friend or family member. 67 percent of users agree when discovering and purchasing new apps they trust what they learn from online research, and 50 percent only consider well-known apps,” Imma Calvo Managing Director of Apps at Google, said in the App Annie report.
It is worth mentioning that mobile is the only channel with this level reach and depth of engagement.
In the U.S. alone, eight percent of people spent more time on mobile than watching live TV daily. “The average American watched 3.7 hours of live TV a day, whereas they spent 4 hours on their mobile device in H2 2020. The weighted average among countries analyzed for time spent surpassed 4 hours 10 minutes during the pandemic,” the report highlighted.
In the streaming sphere, popular Chinese video sharing app TikTok and Google’s YouTube reigned supreme over rivals.
According to App Annie’s report, TikTok easily outpaced top social networking apps in hours per user, registering a whopping 325 percent in YoY growth.
TikTok ranked in the top 5 by time spent and its average monthly time spent per user grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 70 percent in the US and 80 percent in the UK — surpassing Facebook. TikTok is on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021.
During 2020, 40 percent more hours were streamed on mobile phones, with time spent peaking in Q2 of 2020 in the west as the first wave of COVID-19 forced people inside.
“By 2021 and in the new normal, the average mobile streamer in the US, South Korea and the UK will download 85 percent, 80 percent and 60 percent more video streaming apps, respectively, compared to pre-pandemic levels,” the report explained.
In parallel, YouTube witnessed a surge in time spent per user on the platform, which is 6x increase from last year, recording a watch time of 38 hours a month.
While YouTube was one of the most dominating forces in the video streaming industry across all markets except China, Amazon’s Twitch made headways against many video streaming platforms, which showcases the rise of user-generated content, live streams, and e-sports.
The increase in demand for apps and games resulted in 97 percent of publishers monetizing through the iOS App Store earned <$1 million per annum and would benefit from Apple’s App Store small business program — reducing fees from 30 percent to 15 percent.
“Many publishers — particularly gaming publishers — roll up under larger companies or parent companies and monetize across both stores — taking home much more per year in aggregate,” the report added.
According to data by market research firm Crunchbase, $73 billion in investment capital poured into mobile companies, reporting at 26 percent YoY growth in 2020. These investments were mainly led by financial services, transportation, e-commerce, and shopping.
“Investments in companies with a mobile solution represent 26 percent of total global funding dollars in 2020, per Crunchbase data. Mobile has driven consumer and enterprise technology innovation with geo-location, cloud services and Artificial Intelligence, creating leading companies in transportation, financial services, health care and entertainment,” Gené Teare Data Researcher Crunchbase, said in the report.
Throughout the year, smartphones and mobile services fueled 45 percent more financial engagement, as consumers quickly opted for contactless digital payments in light of the pandemic.
“Time spent in Finance apps during 2020 was up 45 percent worldwide outside of China in 2020 YoY. Whether leveraging wallet apps, financial services like loans, shopping for major purchases like a car or a house, or investing in the market, FinTech apps are in high demand and a critical part of the decision-making process for consumers,” the App Annie report explained.
Within the gaming industry, core gamers mainly chose mobile consoles at home, account for 66 percent of spending, and 55 percent of time spent on mobile games.
“Casual games dominate downloads with the popularity of easy- to-use names like Among Us, ROBLOX and My Talking Tom Friends. APAC drives a significant portion of spend and time spent among Core games, yet Console and PC-gone-mobile titles bridge the West into Core mobile gaming,” the report noted.
Mobile gaming is on track to surpass $120 billion in consumer spend in 2021 — capturing 1.5x of the market compared to all other gaming platforms combined.
As humanity is still not completely out of the woods in terms of the pandemic, experts forecast that while the world enters into an economic recession, technology will continue to accelerate forward regardless of the events surrounding the human race.