The COVID-19 effect: mobile app spend rose 23.4% during first half of 2020

Anne Freer | July 2, 2020

App Business

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 lockdowns had an effect on consumer spending on apps, but now new data from Sensor Tower’s Store Intelligence shows just how much mobile users spent during the first half of 2020.

Overall, spending on the App Store and Google Play store was up 23.4% to $50.1 billion. That’s a significant lift from the $40.6 billion customers spent during the same time back in 2019.

There’s been much talk in the industry about the effect of coronavirus-related lockdowns driving demand for apps and the latest figures further support these statements.

In-app purchases, subscriptions and premium app spend in the App Store jumped to $32.8 billion, which is 24.7% higher compared to 2019.

Apple marketplace spending was twice the gross revenue recorded on Google Play ($17.3 billion).

Tinder retained its top spot in terms of global gross revenues with $433 million in user spending in both app stores. However, that’s actually a 19% decline from 2019 when spending was at $532 million.

There could be two reasons for this trend: users changed their spending behaviours due to being unable to physically date or Tinder making its Passport feature available for free use could have eaten into its budget.

YouTube ranked second with an average consumer spending of $431 million, followed by TikTok at $421 million. Other notable apps included Tencent Video and Netflix.

The figures also highlight that lockdowns had a significant effect on people downloading new apps for the first time.

During the first half of 2020 there were some 71.5 billion first-time app installs, a rise of 26.1% from the previous year.

18.3 billion of these came from the App Store compared to 53.2 billion from Google Play, marking a 22.8% for Apple and 27.3% growth for Google.

The higher installs for Google aren’t unusual. We’ve seen this pattern before given Android’s dominance as a mobile operating system.

When it comes to downloads, TikTok ranked in first place on both app stores, followed by WhatsApp and Zoom.

Spending on mobile apps rose 21.1% to estimated $36.6 billion. In-game spending on the App Store was up 22.7% to $22.2 billion while Google Play Store revenues reached $14.4 billion (a 19% growth).

Among the top games for app store revenues were PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings and Monster Strikes while top games for downloads included PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire and Hunter Assasin.

Overall, mobile game downloads rose to 28.5 billion first-time installs on both mobile app stores, up 42.5% year-on-year. Downloads on Google Play rose 1.5x to 22.8 billion compared to 29.5% to 5.7 billion on the App Store.

The report clearly demonstrates that COVID-19 had a significant impact on the app ecosystem during the first half of 2020. Broken down into quarters, Sensor Tower revealed that consumers spent 28.8% more in-apps during Q2 2020 year-on-year while downloads jumped 31.7%.

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