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Global App Spending Approached $65 Billion in the First Half of 2021, Up More Than 24% Year-Over-Year

Global app spending reached $64.9 billion in 1H 2021

Worldwide consumer spending in mobile apps reached $64.9 billion across the App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2021, according to preliminary Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates and projections through June 30. This was 24.8 percent more than the $52 billion generated by both stores in the same period in 2020.

Although spending continued to climb to new heights, the year-over-year growth experienced by mobile markets so far this year trailed that experienced in 2020. In the first half of last year, the pandemic boosted consumer spending by 28.4 percent Y/Y when compared to approximately $40.5 billion in the first half of 2019

Advertisers Shift Spending Toward Android Devices

Advertisers have begun shifting their spending patterns in the months since Apple Inc. began requiring apps to gain iPhone and iPad users’ permission to track them.

After the tracking change took effect in April, many users of Apple’s iOS operating system have received a high volume of prompts from apps asking permission to track them—requests that most have declined. Less than 33% of iOS users opt in to tracking, according to ad-measurement firm Branch Metrics Inc.

As a result, the prices for mobile ads directed at iOS users have fallen, while ad prices have risen for advertisers seeking to target Android users. Those shifts come after many in the digital-ad industry warned that Apple’s changes, which the tech giant framed as part of a broader user-privacy crackdown, would limit advertisers’ access to data about consumers and hurt their business.

Digital advertisers say they have lost much of the granular data that made mobile ads on iOS devices effective and justified their prices. In recent months, ad-buyers have deployed their iOS ad spending in much less targeted ways than were previously possible, marketers and ad-tech companies say. The shortage of user data to fuel Facebook Inc.’s suite of powerful ad-targeting tools reduces their effectiveness and appeal among some advertisers, ad agencies say.

U.S. Consumer Spending on Lifestyle Apps Hit Nearly $300 Million in Q1

Lifestyle category apps are off to a strong start in 2021, both in terms of adoption and consumer spending in the United States. Sensor Tower’s State of Lifestyle Apps 2021 report, available now, analyzes trends in the category and analyzes how subcategories such as Dating, Social Discovery, and Home Technology performed throughout 2020 and in early 2021.

Although U.S. consumer spending in Lifestyle category apps declined slightly quarter-over-quarter in 2019, 2020 saw a resurgence. The category’s revenue grew each quarter over the last year, and that trend continued into the first quarter of 2021 when the category reached $296 million in spending, up 30 percent year-over-year.

U.S. spending in Lifestyle apps reached nearly $300 million in Q1 2021.

Excluding Tinder, which introduced direct payments on Android, the Lifestyle category saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 50 percent in U.S. consumer spending since the first quarter of 2018.

Consumers are spending more in apps but installs are down in H1 2021

Consumers spent a whopping $64.9 billion in app stores by Google and Apple during the first half of the years, according to the latest data from Sensor Tower.

That’s almost a quarter more than they spent in 2020 at $52 billion.

However, growth in 2020 was still higher at a spending boost of 28.4% compared to the first half of 2019 ($40.5 billion).

The Apple App Store is projected to generate $41.5 billion in consumer spending worldwide via in-app purchases, subscriptions and premium apps during the first half of 2021.

Google Play generated an estimated $23.4 billion during the same period, but it’s projected that the Google store will grow more strongly during 2021 than Apple.

Revenues on Google Play grew 30% from $18 billion in H1 2020, which is 4 percentage points higher than the same period in 2019. Its growth is driven by markets such as the Philippines.

Here’s everything Apple announced at this year’s WWDC


Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, is the company’s annual conference for software makers. The conference kicked off Monday with a two-hour keynote address that showed off a slew of new updates for the company’s major products.

Here are the most important announcements:

Beta versions will be available to developers Monday, and the public can test the software beginning in July. The final versions will be available to everyone this fall.

iOS 14.5 delivers Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch, more diverse Siri voice options, and new privacy controls

Customers can now use their Apple Watch to securely unlock iPhone when Face ID is enabled while wearing a face mask.
iOS 14.5 brings exciting new features to iPhone, including the ability to unlock iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask, more diverse Siri voices, new privacy controls, skin tone options to better represent couples in emoji, and much more. iOS 14.5 builds on the reimagined iPhone experience introduced in iOS 14, and is available today as a free software update.

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

Starting today, customers can use their Apple Watch to securely unlock iPhone when attempting to use Face ID while wearing a face mask. With Apple Watch on the wrist, unlocked, and in close proximity to iPhone, users can simply glance at their iPhone and they will receive haptic feedback from Apple Watch, indicating their iPhone has been unlocked. The new feature works with iPhone X and later and Apple Watch Series 3 and later.1

Siri Enhancements

With iOS 14.5, Siri no longer has a default voice, allowing users to choose the voice that speaks to them when they first set up their device, and in English, users can now select more diverse voice options. These new Siri voices use Neural Text to Speech technology for an incredibly natural sound. These updates further Apple’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, with products and services that are designed to better reflect our customers and the world.
Siri also gains new capabilities with support for Group FaceTime, making it easier to initiate calls with multiple contacts or ask Siri to FaceTime the name of any group in Messages. In addition to incoming messages, Siri can now announce incoming calls through AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and supports calling emergency contacts if the iPhone owner needs assistance and is unable to make a call. During setup, Siri offers two more diverse voice options and no longer has a default, giving users a way to select the one that speaks to them.

More Privacy Controls

App Tracking Transparency requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers. Apps can prompt users for permission, and in Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to their choice at any time.
With App Tracking Transparency, apps are now required to get a user’s permission to track or access their device’s advertising identifier.

New Emoji

iOS 14.5 introduces an exciting update for the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji with the ability to select different skin tones. Additional emoji include characters for face exhaling, face with spiral eyes, face in clouds, hearts on fire, mending heart, and woman with a beard, among others.

Report an Incident in Apple Maps

Maps users in the US and China can now safely and easily report an accident, hazard, or speed check along their route by telling Siri on iPhone or CarPlay. During navigation, users can let Siri know “There’s a crash up ahead” or “There’s something on the road,” or even report that incidents displayed on the map have been cleared. This feature is designed to keep drivers hands-free and focused on the road. Incidents can also be reported or cleared by passengers using “Report an Issue” in Maps. In addition, Maps users can now share their ETA when walking or cycling to let friends and family know what time they might arrive. CarPlay users can initiate the Share ETA feature using new Siri or keyboard controls.

Additional iOS 14.5 Features

  • Apple Podcasts gets redesigned show pages to make it easier to start listening, as well as an option to save and download episodes so they are automatically added to Library for quick access. Top Charts, categories, and curated collections on the Search tab help listeners discover new shows.
  • AirTag support allows users to keep track of and find important items, such as keys, a wallet, backpack, or more, privately and securely in the Find My app.
  • Apple News features a redesigned News+ tab, making it easier for subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues, and an all-new Search experience helps all Apple News users find relevant topics, channels, and stories.2
  • Apple Fitness+ users can now stream audio and video to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices.3
  • Reminders adds the ability to sort by title, priority, due date, or creation date, and offers the option to print reminder lists.
  • 5G improvements for iPhone 12 models include Dual SIM support for 5G connectivity and Smart Data Mode enhancements to further optimize the experience on the network, including better battery life and data usage.
  • Voice Control for Accessibility gives users comprehensive navigation with just their voice, and is now expanding English support to Australia and Canada and adding support for Spanish in Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

The Most Downloaded Mobile Apps in March 2021

Facebook and Google are indeed on top. So much so that the top 10 across the App Store, Google Play, and combined, are nearly identical. In another return to normalcy, TikTok’s unstoppable is back on display. With demand for chat service Telegram down in March, TikTok is back to being the king of downloads.

Zoom, Snapchat, and Spotify were the only other apps to make it into the top 10. The first two aren’t strangers to the list, but Spotify is making a debut. It’s been close for quite a while now, but before March hasn’t cracked it yet. More on that, below.

Together, the most downloaded apps in the world across the App Store and Google Play were downloaded roughly 352 million times, about 6% higher than February’s batch.

45% of apps used were games in Q1 2021

Some 218 billion apps were downloaded in 2020, representing a 7% growth over the previous year. That’s according to new data from AdColony.

Overall, users spent 4.2 hours per day using their mobile devices which was 20% higher than in 2019.

These changes were driven by COVID-related lockdowns.

Among the top mobile game downloads, 78% were casual games.

Some 45% of apps used during Q1 2021 were games and 36% of gamers said they played more games compared to before the pandemic.

Mobile games were cited as a top way to relieve stress and tension during unprecedented times.

The top ten casual games accounted for some 80 million installs during the first two weeks of 2021 alone.

But it’s not just gaming that saw app usage spike. A fifth of users also discovered new products using their smartphones.

Digging deeper into shifting consumer behaviour, AdColony found that people spent 8% more time in games than watching TV and 18% paid for apps while 14% of gamers made in-app purchases.

Meanwhile, reaching consumers through mobile games is still an effective way to engage with target audiences.

Consumers are expected to spend $120 billion on mobile games this year.

The reasons for game play vary from wanting to pass some time (48%) to relaxing (44%) and keeping the mind active (33%).

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