Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The app industry in 2020 reached new heights as the pandemic fueled the need for apps of various kinds. In fact, the weekly time spent on apps grew by over 20% in the first three months of 2020. This seems to have rubbed off on the first quarter of 2021 as well, as expenditure on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store continues to grow and accelerate. Q1 2021 has witnessed an enormous expenditure of $32 billion on apps, an increase of 40% compared to the same period in 2020, making it the biggest quarter since records began, according to a report by app analytics firm App Annie.

Downloads of apps on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store rose to 31 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 10%. The expenditure on apps witnessed a year-on-year growth of 40% to come to $21 billion on iOS.

The pandemic was the main reason for the unprecedented growth of the app industry in 2020. Since people were confined to their homes for months and forced to work or study online, they had to resort to video-conferencing apps like Zoom (to work and study) or other miscellaneous apps – including apps for work, school, shopping, fitness, entertainment, and gaming. “Smartphone users spent around $9 billion more on apps and games in Q1 2021 than they did in Q1 2020,” the report by App Annie read.

TikTok took over the top spot from the social network Facebook in terms of downloads, followed by Instagram, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Zoom. While YouTube and TikTok found the top spot in terms of global consumer spending, Facebook and WhatsApp Messenger had the most number of monthly active users.

Gaming and entertainment apps were at the top in terms of expenditure, while fitness apps also saw substantial growth. The Google Play Store witnessed the greatest downloads of the categories Social, Tools and Finance (with Weather and Dating apps increasing by 40% and 35% respectively), while on iOS the emphasis was on Games, Finance and Social Networking (Health and Fitness apps grew by 25%).

Signal, the privacy-focused messaging app, become the second-fastest-growing app in the quarter in terms of downloads and monthly active users, closely followed by Telegram. The spot for the fastest growing app in terms of downloads this quarter went to Indian short-video app MX Takatak.

According to App Annie, the gaming category continued to be at the top. Gamers downloaded, according to the report, around a billion titles weekly in the quarter. The total expenditure by consumers in gaming was around $22 billion – $13 billion by iOS gamers (an increase of 30%) and $9 billion on Google Play (a rise of 35%). Among Us, PUBG Mobile, DOP 2: Delete One Part, and Join Clash 3D were at the top in terms of downloads, consumer spending, and monthly active users. According to App Annie, the mobile gaming industry set to reach $120 billion in consumer expenditure in 2021.