App economy expected to be $120 billion in 2019 as small screen leads digital transformation efforts

App Annie's 2019 State of Mobile report has a bevy of factoids and projections enterprises need to consider as they take on their mobile and digital transformation strategies.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Consumers are expected to spend $120 billion in app stores in 2019, according to mobile data and analytics firm App Annie. That spending clip is expected to be 5x the growth rate of the global economy.

That takeaway highlights the promise and peril for a bevy of sectors as the small screen becomes the primary screen for most technology users.

App Annie's State of Mobile report for 2018 includes a bevy of stats that highlight mobile trends and what they mean for businesses. While gaming dominates usage on mobile, there are lessons for financial tech, media and other enterprises.

As a result, marketing tactics and business models are likely to change to account for mobile. For instance, App Annie estimates that 60 percent more apps will monetize through in-app advertising in 2019 as part of a broader user acquisition strategy.

App Annie

Among the key figures from the App Annie report:

  • Global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016.  Emerging markets are leading the growth. About 65 percent of total global downloads are non-game apps.
  • App store consumer spending topped $100 billion in 2018, up 75 percent from 2016.
  • Social and communications apps account for 50 percent of time spent in apps. Time spent in apps globally grew 45 percent from 2016 to 2018.
  • 720 billion hours were spent globally in social and communication apps in 2018, up 30 percent from 2016.
  • The most lucrative non-gaming apps of 2018 all contained in-app subscriptions. Netflix is No. 1 followed by Tinder and Tencent Video. Spending in 2018 was $19.38 billion, up from $11.9 billion, according to App Annie.
  • Global time in shopping apps was up 60 percent in 2018 to 18 billion hours compared to 2016.
  • Traditional retailers are making progress on integrating mobile, but digital first retail apps have 1.5x to 3x more average sessions per user.
  • Peer-to-peer shopping apps such as Shopee, eBay and MercadoLibre accounted for 1 billion downloads.
App Annie
  • Global downloads of finance apps top 3.7 billion in 2018, up 90 percent from 2016. The average user checks their bank account on mobile nearly daily in 2018.
  • Dating apps are monetization machines led by Tinder, which grabbed the most consumer spending in 2018, 2017 and 2016.
  • Loyalty programs were a big tool to generate repeat orders via notifications and flash sales. 
App Annie
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