Thursday, May 23, 2024

    Mobile spend to hit $2.2trn globally by 2030, driven by rising use of apps across social, entertainment and productivity

    Between 2021 and 2030, mobile will generate a staggering $2.2trn in consumer spend – a 267% increase over the $600bn spent the previous decade – as consumers spend nearly 16 billion hours a day on their mobile phones (and that’s just Android users)

    Spend on and through mobile apps will outstrip growth in spend on mobile games in the coming decade, with consumer spend at a CAGR of 11% versus 4%, respectively – despite an overall fall in discretionary spending globally.

    According to’s latest mobile forecast report, between 2021 and 2030, mobile will generate a staggering $2.2trn in consumer spend – a 267% increase over the $600bn spent the previous decade – as consumers spend nearly 16 billion hours a day on their mobile phones (and that’s just Android users).

    The report says that mobile will continue to take over share of wallet, even if disposable income shrinks. Per device spend in non-gaming apps is set to more than double to $138 per year in the US. Publishers will continue to innovate on the subscription and In-App Purchase (IAP) model to unlock new pathways to monetisation growth.

    While privacy changes, industry regulations and macroeconomic concerns in major markets like the US and China could dampen growth rates, we ultimately expect growth to continue through 2030. As we move beyond the pandemic-induced market correction and assuming some economic stabilization, growth rates should return closer to pre-COVID levels, but this time driven by apps.

    Spending across the categories

    Mobile game spend falls in the discretionary category, meaning that in can be hit hard by a bad economy as consumers prioritize necessities. The impact of the COVID-19 stimulus checks on mobile gaming is clear, with mobile game spend skyrocketing in 2020 along with consumers’ greater disposable income

    The return of positive disposable income growth in the US in early 2023 is a particularly welcome site for mobile game developers since consumer spend has been very strongly correlated with disposable income over the past few years. This suggests that the decline in mobile game spend will be temporary as the economy stabilizes in 2023 and beyond.

    Meanwhile, consumer spend in non-gaming apps continued to climb even as disposable income fell. This points to how mobile’s share of a consumer’s wallet continues to climb over time.

    Per device spend in non-gaming skyrocketed across top markets as consumers became increasingly comfortable with mobile subscriptions. Additionally, some apps like TikTok unlocked massive revenue with one-time purchases.

    Consumer spend growth in non-games has far outpaced growth in games in recent years. For example, United States spend per iOS device in non-games climbed 65% from $39 in 2020 to $64 in 2022. This nearly matched the $65 spent per iOS device in games, which was an increase of only 9% from $60 in 2020.

    TikTok and YouTube ranked first and third, respectively, by global consumer spend in 2022, and there were four non-game apps among the top 10 in 2022. By comparison, only one non-game (Tinder) ranked among the top 10 apps by consumer spend in 2020.

    Entertainment is the top app genre by consumer spend, with apps like TikTok and YouTube leading the field. TikTok has continued to raise the bar and became the first app to surpass $1 billion in consumer spend in a single quarter in Q1 2023.

    Other top genres are also expected to see strong annual growth at around 12-13% between 2023 and 2030. Examples of top apps include Tinder (Social Media – Dating), Google One (Utilities & Productivity – File Management) and piccoma (Books & Reference – Comics).

    Regional breakdown

    Asia will account for seven out of every 10 downloads in 2030, predicts the study. Downloads in Asia will climb from 177 billion in 2023 to 245 billion in 2030, averaging 4.7% annual growth. Asia includes three of the top five markets (#1 China Mainland, #2 India and #5 Indonesia). Asia’s growth will outperform other top regions like Europe and North America.

    South America will surpass North America to rank as the third region by 2030. South America’s downloads will climb 37% between 2023 and 2030 (4.6% CAGR), exceeding North America’s 25% growth (3.2% CAGR).

    Time spent in projected to grow across all regions over the next five years — ranging from 6.8% annual growth in Africa to 1.8% CAGR in North America.

    Asia dominates in terms of time spent (on Android phones). Users spent 3.3 trillion hours on Android phones in Asia in 2023, or more than 9 billion hours each day. This is expected to climb to 3.5 trillion hours in 2024 and 4.8 trillion hours in 2030.

    Device demarcation

    Mobile consumer spending saw a year-over-year decline for the first time since the launch of the app stores in 2022. This dip was primarily due to economic headwinds as well as a correction from the rapid growth seen at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Recent data suggest that this is only a temporary dip rather than a long-term trend. Positive growth returned in 2023 and is expected to continue, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% on iOS and 7.2% annual growth on Android devices through 2030.

    Downloads spiked in 2020 as consumers turned to their mobile devices to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Growth has been more modest since, particularly on iOS which saw a decline between 2020 and 2022 before a strong bounce back in 2023.

    Positive growth returned in 2023, with iOS downloads climbing 8.5% year-over-year. Overall, we project a CAGR of 4.8% on Android to nearly 300 billion downloads in 2030, compared to a 3.9% CAGR on iOS to 49.2 billion downloads.

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