We are spending more on smartphone apps than ever before. Apple is still the big winner

Consumer spending on mobile apps reached a record high of $32 billion in Q1 2021.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The record sales for apps in the first quarter of this year reflects the boom in app purchases since the pandemic began a year ago. Total app sales this quarter of $32 billion was 40% more than consumers spent in Q1 2020, when the initial wave of lockdowns was just beginning. 

According to app analytics firm App Annie, consumers spent $9 billion more in Q1 2021 than they did a year ago as people stayed at home and started seeking more entertainment through mobile games, video streaming and social apps. 

Apple's App Store continues to dominate by revenue, with iOS users spending $21 billion on apps and games, while Android users spent around $11 billion on apps from Google Play. App Annie notes that both stores' revenues grew equally by 40% year over year. 

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Meanwhile, downloads on the App Store and Google Play grew by 10% year on year to $31 billion. 

Gaming apps were the biggest winner in the pandemic. iOS users spent $13 billion on games in the App Store, up 30% year on year, while Android users spent $9 billion on Google Play, up 35% over the period. 

App Annie estimates mobile gaming spend in 2021 will reach $120 billion. 

The top growth categories of apps by downloads on Google Play were social, tools, and finance. For iOS, the biggest gains were seen in games, finance and social networking. However, App Annie found that iOS health and fitness apps rose an impressive 25% quarter over quarter. 

Privacy focussed messaging app Signal was the fastest-growing app by downloads and monthly active users, according to App Annie. 

SEE: Google: Here's how we're toughening up Android security

Signal gained a lot of new users after WhatsApp released its 'take it or leave it' new privacy policy that permits it to share some user profile data with Facebook. WhatsApp will be requiring users to accept its new terms by May 15

Telegram claims it gained 100 million new users who weren't happy with WhatsApp's planned privacy changes.

The record spending on apps comes as competition regulators in the US, Europe, Australia and the UK initiate probes into Apple's and Google's rules for developers who distribute apps through the respective stores.   

App Annie
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