Consumers love apps. Downloads in 2017 rose about 60% to 175 billion globally in the past two years, with users devoting nearly 1.5 months of their time in apps per year -- up 30%, respectively. They also spent 105% more in 2017, about $86 billion.
These numbers stand in sharp contrast to Flurry's State of Mobile 2017 report. Flurry's annual wrap-up, which tracks more than one million applications across 2.6 billion devices globally, shows that overall app sessions grew a mere 6% in 2017 compared with the prior year. Shopping, however, rose 54%, while music, media and entertainment rose 43%; business and finance grew 33%; utilities and productivity rose 20%, and news and magazines rose 20%.Time fell on sports, photograph, personalization, games, and lifestyle apps.
App Annie's wrap-up report, titled 2017: Retrospective, shows India and Brazil continuing to emerge as a strong app economy -- with many downloads of apps being driven by new smartphone owners.
Apps have become essential tools for airline check-ins, car rentals, hotel discounts, ride sharing, videos from Netflix, and more.
Lexi Sydow, market insights manager at App Annie, estimates that overall there are more than 6 million apps in app stores. "People are signing up for subscriptions on their phones rather than on the web," she said. "It used to be where you would sign up on the web and then watch on your phone."
Retail apps have always shown a strong presence in downloads and use. The situation was no different in 2017. Total sessions in U.S. retail rose 70% in the past two years. Mobile shopping apps had their biggest month ever in November 2017. "It shows mobile will take more of an advertiser's budget in 2018," she said.
Sydow also emphasized the need for marketers to have optimization strategies, which improve the ability for consumers to discover apps. Organic traffic on apps, such as searches, was responsible for 65% of downloads in the iOS App Store. Search volume for Black Friday rose 115% in November 2017 compared with the three months prior, meaning more users searched for apps in stores to complete Black Friday shopping.
With the growth in use, however, App Annie's report shows that marketers had a difficult time ranking for the keywords "Black Friday." The difficulty in ranking for "Black Friday" grew 185% since August 2017, which indicates that many apps were influenced.
When analyzing video streams, the data shows that all markets had triple-digit consumer spend growth during the last two years as new apps, users and monetization methods such as micro-transactions emerge. Micro-transactions became a way to remove ads, allowing playback of live TV or enabling offline viewing. In Asia, viewers sending cash gifts to live streamers comprises a rapidly growing segment of the market.
The use of finance apps also grew. Use in Indonesia and Brazil surpassed 200% growth. Apps are also continuing to create cashless societies. U.S. became the most active in users for fintech apps, growing at 6.5% in average monthly active users. Cryptocurrency management apps have skyrocketed as the price of Bitcoin and other currency continues to rise in value.
India overtook the U.S. to become the No. 2 country in app downloads in 2017. In India alone, more than 71 billion hours were spent in the top five social apps on Android phones, with WhatsApp accounting for more than 50% of those hours.
China continues to demonstrate dominance in the app market across all apps, rising 125% in downloads within the past two years. In 2018, App Annie expects China to outpace that of the rest of the world.
A broader adoption of artificial intelligence will contribute to the growth of downloads, especially in China, as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent build out options for the technology on their respective platforms.