As compared to integrated software systems on computers, each mobile app typically offers specific functionalities to smartphone users. According to a survey of users in several global markets, chatting or sending e-mails were the leading mobile activities for 76 percent and 71 percent of respondents. In comparison, entertaining and leisure activities such as listening to music and watching videos on smartphones were popular for 61 percent of respondents.
Leading mobile app distributorsWhile some devices have apps pre-installed, users can select apps through application stores such as the Google Play store for Android, the Apple App Store for iOS, or third-party providers like the Amazon Appstore. When comparing the platforms, Google Play generates the largest amount of worldwide app downloads. In the third quarter of 2022, users downloaded 27.1 billion apps from Google Play, signaling a slowing growth trend for the year when compared to the 27.7 billion downloads recorded in Q3 2021. However, the Apple App Store dominates the market in terms of revenues, accumulating 21.2 billion U.S. dollars in consumer spending on apps in the third quarter of 2022. Despite market predictions that would see the Apple App Store experiencing a loss in net revenues in September 2022, and despite a slower growth trend interesting digital companies as of the beginning of 2022, the Apple App Store is forecast to generate 161 billion U.S. dollars in 2026.
User engagement slows downAs of the second quarter of 2022, there are over 3.5 million apps available on the Google Play Store, and approximately 2.2 million apps on the Apple App Store. In 2022, global user engagement has experienced a slowing down when compared to the peaks reached during the first outbursts of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Between 2020 and 2021, app engagement experienced an increase of only seven percent, while between 2019 and 2020, the time spent using mobile apps for global users increased by approximately 30 percent, with users arriving to spend over four hours and a half daily using apps. Social media apps still engaged audiences the most, with over 55 minutes being spent on apps in this category on a daily basis between October 2020 and March 2021.
Social apps: back to photos?In 2021, the short-video format popularized by ByteDance-owned social app TikTok continued commanding a higher level of engagement from global users across several social platforms, such as YouTube with its YouTube Shorts and Instagram with its Reels. During the second quarter of 2022, global Android users spent around 95 minutes daily engaging with short-video app TikTok, while Facebook users spent less than 50 minutes daily using the platform via mobile.
While the popularity of short-video apps is stable, photo app BeReal, which launched in 2019, has become increasingly popular in 2022. The social media and photo-sharing app has experienced a growth in downloads and entered the rankings of the most popular mobile apps for both iPhone and Android users worldwide. In September 2022, BeReal reported 14 million downloads from iPhone users worldwide as well as 5.6 million downloads via the Google Play Store. BeReal allows users to post only a limited number of times per day and uses a dual camera to capture both a selfie and a regular photo.