New data from App Annie shows that global user spending on in-app purchases reached $32 billion in the first quarter of 2021 across iOS and Google Play. This is the highest ever recorded and represents a 40 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020.
These figures illustrate the significant impact of the epidemic on the app market, with lockdowns in place around the world in the first quarter of 2020.
Home quarantine policies forced consumers to find indoor diversions, and they eventually found a way to adapt on their cell phones - playing games and using other compelling apps such as online video and social sharing platforms.
This has brought an unprecedented rate of growth to the mobile app market, with smartphone users spending $9 billion more on apps and games in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020.
Growth in the first quarter of 2021 was evenly split between the two platforms. user spending on iOS grew 40 percent year-over-year to $21 billion, while user spending on Google Play grew 40 percent year-over-year to approximately $11 billion.
Total downloads also grew significantly. combined downloads on iOS and Google Play grew 10 percent in the quarter to 31 billion.
In terms of downloads, the best performing categories were slightly different. On the Google Play platform, social, tools and finance apps saw the largest quarter-over-quarter increases, but weather apps (40 percent) and social dating apps (35 percent) also performed well.
On the iOS platform, the largest increases were in games, finance and social networking apps. Most notable, however, were health and fitness apps. Downloads of such apps grew 25 percent quarter-over-quarter as consumers looked for new interactive solutions to stay active while staying at home.
In the list of the world's most popular non-gaming apps, we see the expected evergreen offerings. TikTok, YouTube and Facebook remain at the top of the list in terms of downloads, user spending and MAUs. At the same time, examining the quarter-over-quarter chart of the fastest-growing breakthrough apps also yields some interesting findings.
As always, data from Q1 2021 proves that games are the most influential category in the overall app market. Gamers downloaded approximately 1 billion games per week during the quarter, with total user spending in games reaching $22 billion. iOS players spent the most user spending in games at $13 billion (up 30% year-over-year), while user spending on the Google Play platform was $9 billion (up 35% year-over-year).
The growth in downloads was slightly less impressive, but still not to be underestimated. In the first quarter of 2021, players are downloading games approximately 1 billion times per week. This is a 15% increase compared to 2020 and a 35% increase compared to the weekly average in Q1 2019. game downloads in Google Play grew 20% year-over-year to 11 billion.
Ultimately, mobile gaming is poised for another record year as we head into the second quarter of 2021. The epidemic has accelerated this growth, with game downloads growing 2.5 times faster than overall app download growth across all categories in 2020.
In 2021, user spending on mobile games is expected to reach $120 billion, 1.5 times more than all other forms of gaming combined.
Mobile game strategy -- including product development, partnerships, global expansion, user acquisition, marketing, real estate and retention -- is becoming more important than ever, and game publishers need to have a clear understanding of the market and where it is headed.
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