Suggesting a pretty healthy app economy, downloads across Apple’s App Store and Google Play increased more than 8% over the past year.
That’s according to a new third-quarter analysis by App Annie, which found that new app downloads -- not including reinstalls or updates -- approached 26 billion worldwide.
Thanks to all those downloads, total app revenue approached $17 billion, which represented a 28% annual increase.
There are several factors driving growth in downloads and consumer spend, but the main reason is that users are simply spending more time with apps, according to Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at App Annie.
Among Android users, total time spent in apps worldwide came close to 325 billion hours in the third quarter of the year, which represented a 40% increase.
“This significant uptick in time spent further illustrates the rise in new smartphone users adopting mobile as their primary screen in emerging markets as well as preference for streaming services across the Entertainment category growing significantly in mature markets,” Ghodrati said Tuesday.
Consistent with prior quarters, Google Play held onto a healthy lead over iOS for worldwide downloads. During the third quarter of 2017, the gap actually widened to 125% -- compared to 115% in the third quarter 2016.
This was the result of Google Play’s nearly 10% year-over-year download growth, according to App Annie. The measurement firm attributed the download growth on Google Play to activity in emerging markets.
The ongoing influx of first-time smartphone owners in these countries has been a significant driver of this growth. From the second quarter to the third, iOS app downloads jumped 8% -- which represented its biggest gain since the first quarter of 2016.
Given that these markets still have a relatively low level of smartphone penetration, App Annie expects these trends to continue for the foreseeable future.
While the growth of downloads continues to be driven by new smartphone owners, the healthy growth of consumer spend demonstrates the ever-increasing value that both new and seasoned users are receiving from apps.
In the third quarter, worldwide consumer spend on iOS was nearly double that of Google Play. It increased its lead compared to the third quarter of 2016. Both stores, however, reached record levels as they experienced impressive year-over-year growth rates above 25%.
Stateside, Ghodrati noted that HBO NOW's revenue growth coincided with the launch of season 7 of "Game of Thrones" and the continued rise of video streaming on mobile.
“Games always help drive revenue, this time with notable contribution from existing powerhouses Candy Crush Saga and Pokémon GO, as well as the release of Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire,” Ghodrati said.