In December 2019, nobody could have accurately predicted what would be happening a year later, and in an example of how lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have reordered the worlds of work, research from comms analytics specialist AppAnnie has shown how much conferencing has become a leading mobile activity over the past 12 months.

The study looked at the leading apps of 2020 by downloads and app store consumer spend through to 14 November 2020, along with average monthly active users throughout October. Across iOS and Google Play, total spend in mobile apps and games set a new annual record.

While 65 cents of every dollar going to iOS, spend in Google Play for the year is set to grow close to 30%, which is a trend for many quarters. Maintaining the stronghold of global spend is iOS, but Google Play has seen sizeable growth due to competitive Android devices and a growing device footprint, said the study.

Top markets driving growth for iOS include US, Japan and the UK – which differs from the top markets for growth in iOS consumer spend from 2018 to 2019, including the US, China and Japan. Top markets for growth in spend on Google Play were the US, South Korea and Germany – with South Korea and Germany taking Japan and the UK’s place in terms of growth in Google Play spend from 2018 to 2019.

The analyst said that as Covid-19 has gripped the world, altered economics and transformed daily lives, one thing was certain – everyone in every sector has leaned on mobile to connect, work, learn, play and escape.

At the height of the pandemic, mobile usage sky-rocketed, with the company calculating that Covid-19 had accelerated normal mobile adoption by two to three years. The biggest categories of growth globally were games, business and finance on Google Play, and games, business and utilities on iOS.

On a country level, India, Brazil and Indonesia were the largest contributors of growth in downloads on Google Play, whereas the US, Japan and Saudi Arabia saw the greatest growth in downloads on iOS. Among non-gaming categories of apps, in-app subscriptions drove the most growth.

Moreover, AppAnnie found that the largest categories of growth in time spent in 2020 included business apps, up 200% year on year, driven largely from collaboration and conferencing tools such as Zoom Cloud Meetings and Google Meet.

As businesses went remote and collaboration went entirely online, demand for mobile apps surged. App Annie expects mobile usage to remain high in 2021 as businesses retain varying levels of remote policies globally.

Not surprisingly given the prolonged proliferation of Covid-19, the analyst added that the industry was poised to see continued strong growth in ‘at home’ mobile services into 2021, particularly as markets contend with outbreaks and public confidence in containment until the eventual roll-out of global effective vaccines.

It said that while news in November 2020 looks positive for vaccine development, mobile would remain the central hub of connectivity in the new normal.

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