July 16, 2021

Why 2020 Was a Monumental Year for Mobile Apps


In 2020 the world changed forever, and with that, so did the habits of mobile app users. As government restrictions and lockdowns saw more people stay at home, mobile usage accelerated faster than anyone could have imagined. According to App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 report, app store spend and daily time spent has grown by 20% compared to 2019. 

The role of mobile is now seen as one of the most critical channels for growing your brand and engaging with your customers. Read on to find our key takeaways from the report, and why you should include mobile in your business plan for 2021.

Read our playbook on how to grow your business with a mobile app here.

Mobile trumps TV

The daily time spent per user on a mobile device was a staggering 4.2 hours, up by 20% compared to the previous year. This surpassed the average time spent watching live TV. This hasn’t happened overnight, as the technology in mobile devices has evolved to become a phone, TV, games console and fitness tracker all rolled into one. Because of this convenience, it is now the only channel with this much engagement from the average user.

This growing engagement is not unique to one area; it can be seen across developing mobile markets such as Indonesia, Brazil and India, following the more established places like China, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Germany, France and the US.

It’s not just Gen Z!

We know what you’re thinking...this growth is probably due to young people on social media. While Gen Z did spend 18% more time on their devices, it was Gen X/Baby Boomers (27%) who have adapted during the ‘new normal’. When you think about it, this is hardly surprising given the need to go virtual. However, the type of apps for each demographic is quite different, and does tell the story of the 2020.

Gen Z were always magnets to social media platforms, and the restrictions on social gatherings has only increased their desire to socialise virtually. They have favoured Snapchat, Reddit and TikTok along with gaming channels Twitch and Discord.

For Millennials, a conscious effort to save or take advantage of the removal of stamp-duty tax sees their favourite apps focus on finance with Halifax and Barclays, alongside eBay, PayPal and LinkedIn.

Gen X and Baby Boomers look to have kept up-to-date with the current crisis but in a more efficient way, with BBC dominating their smartphones via their Weather, News and Sounds apps.

Mobile is worth the investment

In 2020, mobile business was the focus for investors who poured £53.6 billion  in capital into mobile companies - an increase of 27% year-over-year. This was driven by companies in financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping. 

As consumers move their physical needs onto mobile such as the industries above, it’s easy to see why spend has rocketed to £105 billion, growth of 20% YoY. Consumers have moved to apps as critical tools for their work, education, entertainment, shopping and even sleep! 

We work with the UK market-leaders in the sleep industry, Simba Sleep, where we developed an app to help their customers track, analyse and improve their sleep. In just 6 weeks, the app made it into the top 20 in the health & fitness category with a rating of 4.8/5 and over 10k downloads. The app indirectly generated £135k in the first 6 months alone!

Now's the time to strike

While it’s not new to find out the mobile apps market is a great opportunity to grow your business (or start one), it’s impressive to see the accelerated growth across the global markets and demographics mentioned above. Consumer habits have changed, and while we hope life returns to some normality, these habits have been changed over time and won’t revert back anytime soon. So, the opportunity is there for you, it’s time you took it!

Have an idea for a mobile app? Let’s chat! We help ambitious and caring brands to bring their digital products to life. Get in touch here and we’ll get the ball rolling for you.

Why 2020 Was a Monumental Year for Mobile Apps