Mobile apps see large increase in popularity due to COVID-19

According to a recent market data report from app store intelligence firm App Annie, consumers who are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic have been increasingly turning to mobile apps for their shopping, entertainment and productivity.

App Annie found that app usage grew 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020 – hitting an all-time high of over 200 billion hours during April. Consumer spending on apps and in-app purchases hit a record high of $27 billion in the second quarter, and overall app downloads approached a high of nearly 35 billion.

Such significant increases can be attributed to the social distancing and lock down regulations that the vast majority of the world have undertaken in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Social lives have gone increasingly mobile – one example being the Houseparty social network. The app allows you to video call your friends, and it saw an increase in downloads of more than 700% by the end of Q1 2020.

In North America alone, video chat and online conferencing apps saw an increase in downloads of 627% percent, and an increase in daily active users of 121%. The star of the video conferencing boom is Zoom, which managed to expand its overall user base by 300% in under a month.

On the reverse side, hospitality, tourism and travel app downloads decreased by 12% in North America. Airline apps saw a similar decline, as well as real estate and car rental apps.

The app stores themselves have also clearly benefited from the pandemic. iOS downloads grew over 20% year-over-year to nearly 10 billion new downloads in Q2 while Google Play downloads grew 10% to 25 billion. Within these stores, non-gaming focused apps represented over half of the new downloads on Android platforms and 70% of the new downloads on iOS.

Strong growth outside of games included apps falling under various categories including entertainment, health & fitness, photo & video, entertainment, tools, health and fitness and business.

Overall, these significant surges in popularity have been a boon to app creators and aggregators across the world, but as countries begin to ease their restrictions and put less emphasis on the need for social distancing, these developers need to be wary of the return to normal. While downloads are important, the true signifier of success is the daily active users (DAUs.) The most successful app developers will adapt and maintain the momentum the pandemic has given them in order to keep their DAU numbers high despite the inevitable decrease in downloads.