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Apps Are Becoming The Main Way Americans Shop, Create, and Play

Web & Mobile

Isadora Teich wrote this article


While many people are probably tired of hearing wild speculation about what the pandemic will inevitably change forever, we already have some pretty concrete data.

And it paints a very interesting picture.

Certain changes, which may have happened naturally on their own over time anyway, may have sped been up over the course of 2020. Even as the pandemic concludes, it’s very unlikely that its consequences will just suddenly vanish.

Let’s take a look at the data, and forget about speculation.

App Annie’s annual State of Mobile report is one source of fascinating insights into the changing mobile entertainment landscape.

How Are People Spending Their Time And Money?

It’s not exactly surprising that mobile apps grew even more popular over the course of 2020.

People spent more time indoors and possibly alone than ever before, and were in dire need of entertainment. At the same time, many people who may have never used food delivery, grocery delivery, or online shopping apps ordinarily seem to have done so for the first time.

Mobile app downloads grew by a massive 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. But, the surprising thing is that a lot of this growth is not due to young people, who are known for popularizing the latest apps. Gen Z and millennials spent 16% and 18% more time in their favorite apps over the course of 2020. Gen X and Baby Boomers, however, spent 30% more time using apps year-over-year.

In light of this, it is not surprising that consumer spending also boomed via app within 2020.

This was a global trend including markets throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Consumer spending via app grew by 20%. As a result, it hit a new milestone of $143 billion.

This is also unsurprising. Studies show that the average American now checks their phone about every 12 minutes.

That’s over 100 times a day!

And almost 90% of that total time is spent using apps. Also, keep in mind that often, older individuals are more settled in their lives and tend to have more disposable income.

It stands to reason that more app users, and more older app users at that, would lead to a possible consumer boom.

Apps vs. TV

TV’s slow decline is not so secret.

It has been struggling to stay relevant for years. Networks have been reporting declines in views, especially amongst young people, for about a decade.

Even sports viewership has been flagging during the pandemic. This has been a point of confusion for many experts, who assumed that with all of the downtime at home, more and more people would turn on their TVs for sports, at least.

This was not the case, in a big way.

In reality, people can choose from a wide variety of ways to entertain themselves, ranging from Netflix to gaming apps.

In 2020, more people chose mobile entertainment more of the time.

App Annie’s State of Mobile report reveals that the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends 4 hours on their mobile device.

Will 1/7th Of The Global Population Be On TikTok?

TikTok has been a hot topic for over a year for many reasons.

For one, it is highly contested globally for political reasons. Many global governments do not trust the Chinese government or Chinese tech developments.

They think that China may use its popular TikTok app to gather data on and monitor people using it abroad illegally. This sentiment is so strong that India has actually banned the app, and it seemed that the US was going to do the same last year.

If you want to learn more about just what TikTok is, and the controversy surrounding it, check out our blog posts exploring the good, bad, and international intrigue of TikTok!

So, how much did TikTok grow exactly in 2020? Despite the ban in India and controversy abroad, it has skyrocketed to incredible heights.

App Annie estimates that overall, the conditions of the pandemic generated about 3 years of mobile growth for apps in a single year. That growth was accelerated even more for TikTok. It saw massive 325% year-over-year growth in 2020.

On top of this, TikTok ranked in the top 5 apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app that they analyzed. This included 65% growth in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., making TikTok’s growth far more impressive than Facebook.

According to App Annie, TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021. That is roughly 1/7th of the world’s entire population.

Where Consumers Go, Businesses and Investors Follow

It seems that at every major turning point in society’s journey with technology, some people scoff at the possibilities, rather than embrace them.

While a few years ago people were suspicious of mobile technology in general, current trends show that this was far from the case in 2020. Apps have been on the road to dominance for some time, but 2020 accelerated this and made it absolutely undeniable for investors and businesses.

Last year, investors put $73 billion in capital into mobile companies, a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

Also, over a quarter of all funding capital globally was invested in companies that included a mobile solution as a part of their business.

Between 2016 and 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the funding given in the five years prior. This massive growth was led by businesses related to commerce, financial services, transportation, and shopping.

Final Thoughts

In 2020, the world of mobile business and entertainment experienced an unprecedented boom. Click To Tweet

More people are using apps than ever before, and more investors and businesses are working together to create and market them.

In the years to come, it is likely that most businesses will contain some kind of mobile component.

What do you think? Are you surprised by what happened in the world of apps last year?

Comment below!

About Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.

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