The pandemic’s remarkable impact on the app industry has not slowed down in 2021. In fact, consumer spending in apps has hit a new record in the first quarter of this year, a new report from App Annie indicates. The firm says consumers in Q1 2021 spent $32 billion on apps across iOS and Google Play, up 40% year-over-year from Q1 2020. It’s the largest-ever quarter on record, App Annie also notes.
Last year saw both app downloads and consumer spending increase, as people rapidly adopted apps under coronavirus lockdowns — including apps for work, school, shopping, fitness, entertainment, gaming, and more. App Annie previously reported a record 218 billion in global downloads and a record consumer spend of $143 billion for the year.
These trends have continued into 2021, it seems, with mobile consumers spending roughly $9 billion more in Q1 2021 compared with Q1 2020. Although iOS saw more significant consumer spending than Android in the quarter — $21 billion versus $11 billion, respectively — both stores grew by the same percentage, 40%.
But the types of apps driving spending were slightly different from store to store. On Google Play, Games, Social and Entertainment apps saw the most robust quarter-over-quarter growth in consumer spending. In contrast, Games, Photo & Video, and Entertainment apps accounted for the most potent growth on iOS.
By downloads, the categories were different between the stores, as well. On Google Play, Social, Tools, and Finance saw the most significant download growth in Q1, while Games, Finance, and Social Networking drove download growth for iOS. Also, on Google Play, other top categories included Weather (40%) and Dating (35%). At the same time, iOS saw Health and Fitness app downloads grow by a notable 25% — likely a perfect storm as New Year’s Resolutions combined with continued stay-at-home measures that encouraged users to find new ways to stay fit without going to a gym.
The top apps in the quarter remained relatively consistent, however. TikTok beat Facebook in terms of downloads, followed by Instagram, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Zoom. But the short-form video app only made it to No. 2 in terms of consumer spending, with YouTube snagging the top spot. Tinder, Disney+, Tencent Video, and others followed. (Netflix has dropped off this chart as it now directs new users to sign up directly, rather than through in-app purchases).
Though Facebook’s apps have fallen behind TikTok by downloads, its apps — including Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram — still led the market in terms of monthly active users (MAUs) in the quarter. TikTok, meanwhile, ranked No. 8 by this metric.