Mobile App Spending, Downloads On The Rise

The year is ending strong for app downloads, among the most important and challenging part of payments and commerce.

According to the latest from App Annie, 2019 is on track for a 5 percent year-over-year increase in consumer app downloads via the Apple and Google ecosystem – which translates into a record 120 billion apps (the number does not include third-party Android apps).

“This is particularly impressive given that these are net new downloads and do not include re-installs or app updates,” wrote App Annie Market Insights Manager Adithya Venkatraman, via the report. “Consumer spend is set to grow even faster at 15 percent year over year, and will approach $90 billion worldwide in 2019 (excluding third-party Android).”

Main App Drivers

Games were among the main drivers of that growth, the report added, but photos, videos and entertainment also fueled the increases. Such trends are likely to continue into 2020 behind the energy of new streaming services from Disney and other providers, App Annie said, along with other subscription services “that will create alternative revenue streams for publishers.” That’s not all. “The steady rise of short-video apps like TikTok” is also driving growth.

Worldwide in 2019, Facebook Messenger, Facebook and Facebook’s WhatsApp Messenger are commanding the top three spots for most popular apps and games as measured by downloads. Next up are TikTok, Instagram, SHAREit and Likee, followed by Snapchat, Netflix, Spotify and Free Fire. “There has been more volatility in the Games category, as seven out of the top 10 apps were new to the top 10 games by downloads in 2019,” Venkatraman wrote.

When it comes to consumer spending – not downloads – Tinder, Netflix, Tencent Video, iQiyi, YouTube, Youku and LINE have the top spots for 2019, according to App Annie.

More app growth is set to come in the new decade, according to this new report.

“2019 has marked all-time highs for app downloads and consumer spend, and 2020 is set to be even bigger – with consumer spend projected to be over $30 billion on apps and nearly $80 billion on games,” the report said.

Apps and Payments

The app game going into 2020 involves much more than games, social media and entertainment, as recent PYMNTS research has documented.

Indeed, getting consumers to download new apps can be a tough sell, crowded as users’ smartphone screens already are these days. It may be even more challenging to get them to use new apps on a regular basis before they are banished from their home screens.

However, at least one category of apps appears to be bucking this trend: mobile credit card apps, which enable consumers to check account balances, redeem rewards and receive real-time transaction alerts, among a myriad of other functions. More than 40 percent of U.S. consumers have downloaded card apps, which works out to more than 102 million people. What’s more, consumers are actually using those apps – 60.7 percent use them several times per week, and 29.4 percent at least once per day.

PYMNTS’ research suggests that consumers consider smartphone apps as natural companions to their credit cards, two items they rarely leave home without. Card apps give users immediate access to account and transaction information when they need it – not just once a month in a paper statement. Indeed, two of the most widely popular app features include the ability to view credit card statements (which was considered important by 68.3 percent of survey respondents) and view recent card activity (cited by 65.6 percent).

If such features are table stakes for compelling card apps, two functions sweeten the pot. The single most important card app feature in the view of consumers is real-time transaction alerts, cited by 21.1 percent. This is followed by fingerprint login, cited by 19.2 percent. These standout features notably make use of the built-in capabilities of smartphones, placing real-time account information at users’ fingertips while allowing them to avoid the frustration of passwords or fine print.

The new decade will almost certainly bring new approaches to apps, and many new launches. And the trends seen as this year draws to a close are sure to help shape that future.

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Latest Insights:

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. In the December 2019 Mobile Card App Adoption Study, PYMNTS surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers for a reveal of the four most compelling features apps must have to engage users and drive greater adoption.



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