Smartphone owners downloaded a record high of 38.7 billion apps in the third quarter of 2022, according to mobile intelligence company Data.ai, while spending fell slightly. In-app purchases totaled $32.4 billion last quarter, down from an all-time high of $34 billion a year ago.
But that’s still 40% higher than before the pandemic, according to Data.ai.
Instagram beat TikTok to take the title of most downloaded app, while the company formerly known as Facebook captured four of the top six spots and five of the top ten. But TikTok’s newfound strength is its ability to monetize users, and that has helped it lead in consumer in-app spending.
- tick tock
- WhatsApp Messenger
- Facebook Messenger
- Meesho (a shopping app)
- CopCut (a video editor)
- WhatsApp business
App installs curiously didn’t slow down from pandemic highs, up 8% from Q3 2021. That was primarily due to growth in Android, as consumers downloaded apps 30 billion times from Google Play versus just under 9 billion on the iOS App Store.
The key driver?
“On Google Play, India and Brazil were the top two markets by downloads. In terms of quarter-on-quarter growth, India, Pakistan and Iraq have been the biggest drivers of change as of Q2 2022,” the company said in a statement. “In terms of iOS, unsurprisingly, China and the US were the two largest markets by volume. They also posted the largest percentage increase over the three-month period, along with Brazil.”
As usual, most of the app downloads were in the various gaming categories, while utility and entertainment apps were also big. Interestingly, the events and parenting categories also saw significant growth.
We download more than a billion gaming apps every week, says Data.ai, and gaming accounts for about 60% of total global in-app spending, which equates to about $1.54 billion per week. That’s a slight drop from last year — a pandemic year — but 25% up from pre-pandemic 2019.
The top game by downloads was – believe it or not – the ten year old Subway Surfers, followed by the much younger Stumble Guys and then Free Fire, Ludo King and the also venerable Candy Crush Saga.
However, consumer spending was highest in honor of the kings, and Roblox led the way with the highest number of monthly active users.
“Back in 2014, reports surfaced saying something remarkable about the video game industry: it was grossing more than movies and music combined. For these established industries, this was amazing news,” Data.ai said in a statement. “Now we can see the impact that app-based gaming has made. Earlier this year, data.ai released a study that predicted the global gaming industry would generate $222 billion worldwide – with mobile games accounting for 60% of the total.”
Interestingly, when it comes to games, there is a platform split.
Almost half of Google Play’s 30 billion downloads are games, while games account for only about a quarter of downloads in the iOS app stores. Accordingly, games account for about two-thirds of Google Play’s $11.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, but just over half of the App Store’s $21 billion.
Which reveals another truism of the mobile economy: iOS apps, while in the minority, monetize significantly better than Android apps.