What makes for a popular app in the first six months of 2020 is, like everything else this year, impacted by COVID-19. We’ve been writing blog posts about app trends for years now, and in every other year, fashion in design has meant changes to what makes for an exciting app. But this year is different: utility has come into its own.
The global coronavirus pandemic has sent users worldwide to their phones, and to functionalities – they suddenly need more than they did before. Online shopping or physical fitness apps; in those countries that have it, test-and-trace software; games, time management, remote working. All these and more have become more crucial than ever before to smartphone users.
This has meant an uptick in users’ spending on apps, too: an additional 23.4% in the first half of 2020 according to Sensor Tower, no less. This represents a huge amount of additional income for app developers: last year’s comparable figure was already $40.6bn, so a rise of a quarter from that already healthy level is significant.
What has been driving this increase? Interestingly, not necessarily extra revenue for the dominant players: while Tinder was still top of the pack, it actually earned 19% less than during the first half of last year.
In other words, there is a renewed appetite for fresh apps: first-time installations rose by 26.1% from January to June this year, demonstrating an enthusiasm amongst users for new solutions. This was true across both Apple and Google, although the latter experienced a slightly more pronounced increase.
One app driving this enthusiasm for the new, of course, is ZOOM, the videoconferencing software that has in the time of COVID-19 gone from a product few use to an integral part of many people’s daily lives.
Likewise, in-game spending drove a large proportion of the additional revenue, as users looked to fill free time with developing new hobbies: mobile game downloads rose by almost 50% this year.
The take-home from this? If a developer can offer a useful, enjoyable experience to users at a time when they are in need of it then the app market remains very elastic: new offerings can still have a very big impact.
This underlines the critical importance of market intelligence: companies and developers that understand their audience, and anticipate their needs, can fill important gaps in people’s lives rapidly – and, therefore, profitably.
Who knows what the second half of 2020 will bring? Perhaps savvy app developers do…
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