2020 was a hell of a year for mobile. Repeated lockdowns forced pretty much everyone to pick up their devices while looking for everything from getting their groceries to playing games to talking to friends and family.
To put it into perspective, App Annie has analysed who mobile was used in 2020 and it makes for staggering reading. For example, US consumers spent 8% more time on mobile than they did watching live TV.
From this mega-engagement, many sectors have made more money than ever through mobile. According to the report, 97% of publishers that monetise through the iOS App Store earned more than $1 million per annum and would benefit from Apple’s App Store small business program — reducing fees from 30% to 15%.
Many publishers — particularly gaming publishers — roll up under larger companies or parent companies and also monetise across both stores — taking home much more per year in aggregate.
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.
Mobile gaming on track to surpass $120 billion in consumer spend in 2021 — capturing 1.5x of the market compared to all other gaming platforms combined.
Interestingly, events, leader-boards and customization were the top gameplay features for app store monetization in 2020 in western markets.
In APAC, however, competitive multiplayer, chat (China and South Korea), daily & logins (Japan), and guilds and clans (China) were some of the top-performing features by Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
Social holds the key
Social media has also seen a big boom – leading to traffic generation for social networks themselves, as well as for games companies, media companies and retailers.
Among top social apps, the average time spent per user increased for nearly every app in every market. 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% in the US and 80% in the UK — surpassing Facebook. TikTok is on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021.
In retail social has perhaps had the biggest impact of all. Global downloads of Pinterest and Instagramworldwide grew 50% and 20% YoY, respectively. Social commerce and live shopping present a $2 trillion market globally by 2024.
The market is budding in the US, as evidenced by NTWRK nearly doubling in size. While further along in South Korea, it is still nascent. The YoY growth rates are early indicators of market demand.
Time spent in streaming apps peaked in Q2 2020 in the west as the first wave of COVID-19 forced people inside.
Even while at home, consumers turned to the small screens — to stream content or engage in second-screening.
By 2021 and in the new normal, the average mobile streamer in the US, South Korea and the UK will download 85%, 80% and 60% more video streaming apps, respectively, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
YouTube was the #1 ranking video streaming app by time spent among all markets analysed, except China. YouTube also commands the market in average time spent per user per month among markets analyzed.
Twitch outranked many video streaming platforms — showcasing the rise of user-generated content, live streams and e-sports.
The increased use of mobile has also led to an increased level of investment in mobile marketing and advertising. Mobile bolstered the ad industry in 2020 — growing to $240 billion in mobile ad spend and set to top $290 billion in 2021. Use SDK and ad network penetration insights along with creative intelligence to explore the ad partnerships and best practices for the strongest ROI.
Across the board, interstitial ads saw the largest YoY growth as COVID-19-induced cuts to marketing budgets likely prompted advertisers to seek cheaper inventory.
Video ads saw YoY growth yet were dethroned for placements by interstitial in all markets analysed except Australia and Canada — where video remained the most prominent.
What of 2021
All this points to 2021 being an increasingly mobile year, with all the above categories growing and developing further, entrenching mobile’s place in the increasingly digital consumer base.
Across 2021 we are gong to see some of the other more fledgling sectors start to boom. Mobile education services, contactless payments, mobile travel, food and drink ordering, as well as some interesting developments in payments. Its going to be an interesting year.