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State of Mobile 2022: Major Trends and Practices

Mobile has emerged as the “Greatest of All Time” and the go-to device of the future. As mobile continues to break records in every category from time spent to generated revenue, the big screen is slowly dying. This is can be corroborated from the newly released State of Mobile 2022 report by App Annie, which reveals that consumer spending on mobile applications reached $170 billion in 2021.


The report provides the readers with a comprehensive look at the app economy across iOS, Google Play, and third-party Android app stores in China. The report sheds light on several trends on how the world continues to move towards mobile.


Here are the major highlights of the report.


1. Mobile-First Markets Spend ⅓ of Waking Hours on Mobile

Across the top 10 markets that were analyzed for this report, the average surpassed 4 hours 48 minutes in 2021, which was 30% higher than what it was in 2019. In fact, mobile users in South Korea, Indonesia, and Brazil spent more than 5 hours a day using mobile apps in 2021.



While the average American spent 3.1 hours watching TV every day, they spent 4.1 hours on their mobile phones in 2021.


2. Consumer Spending on Mobile Apps Hits $170 Billion

Today consumers are downloading more apps than ever. 2021 saw 230 billion apps being downloaded, while the consumer spending on mobile applications in 2021 reached $170 billion on the back of an additional $43 billion that was added in 2021. This resulted in a 30% year-on-year growth as mobile gaming and in-app subscription become more mainstream.



Emerging markets led the growth in downloads with India alone accounting for almost 27 billion app downloads in 2021. Other countries like Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt were among the fastest-growing markets for downloads at 25%, 25%, 25%, 20% 15%, and 15% growth year-on-year, respectively.


3. Social, Photo and Video Apps Took Up 70% of Time Spent on Mobile in 2021

With an increase in time spent on mobile, consumers are also engaging deeper in early-mover categories like Social, Communication, and Photo & Video applications. Much of this time was spent in social, photo & video apps, which accounted for 7 out of every 10 minutes spent on mobile last year.



But while Photo & Video apps have seen a boom in market share of time spend, this hasn’t come at the cost of current habits. Consumers have instead turned their historically “non-mobile” time into time spent in apps and games.


Apart from these categories, entertainment apps also appeal to Gen Z users, especially in the U.S. TikTok, Instagram, Netflix, and Snapchat were the most-used apps by Gen Z users in the U.S. On the other hand, millennials mostly preferred WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and Amazon.


4. 2 Million New Apps & Games Hit the Market in 2021

The total number of apps and games ever released on Google Play and iOS now stands at 21 million because of the 2 million additional games and apps that were released in 2021. Google Play makes up for 77% of all apps and games released in 2021.



Games represented 15% of all new releases in 2021 across both iOS and Google Play. The remaining 85% of new apps cut across all categories of the app stores from mobile-first movers like social media to mobile-forced niches like healthcare and insurance.


5. 233 Apps & Games Raked in Over $100 Million in 2021



At the high end of consumer spending, there were 233 applications and games that generated more than $100 million in 2021. 13 of these hit the $1 billion mark. This is 20% higher than the 2020 figure when only 193 games and apps reached the $100 million mark and only 8 of these could cross $1 billion.


6. Gen Z is a Mobile Social & Video First Generation

Apps in categories that are already highly relevant to Gen Z can be ideal partners in helping you enhance engagement, including Social, Photo & Video, and Entertainment. Although finance and shopping apps haven’t found much traction in a broad Gen Z audience, these categories have witnessed a robust year-on-year growth and represent a promising area for investment. These categories tend to be more Millenial-centric.


7. Market Differences Emerge by Gender Based on App Category

Sports apps over-index heavily with males in each market that is analyzed, whereas Food & Drink apps tend to skew more females. However, this difference can be quite subtle in the case of the U.S. for Food & Drink and more dramatic in other markets like Japan.


Also, most apps used in each country tend to buck categories. For example, shopping apps tend to focus more on females overall, yet Amazon skews more males in the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, and France. Amazon skews more females only in the U.S.


8. Dollars Flock to Mobile Ads Despite IDFA Fears



Apart from the consumer spending on apps, subscriptions, and in-app purchases, the broader mobile app market reached topped $295 billion in 2021, which was up by 23% year-on-year. This growth came despite fear from marketers over Apple’s privacy changes and IDFA crackdown. The market is expected to reach $350 billion in 2022 with the assistance of big events like the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. mid-terms.


Wrapping Up

Mobile has truly emerged as the greatest platform for driving user engagement. Through its immense power of disruption, it has outperformed every traditional marketing medium. The insights from App Annie’s State of Mobile 2022 Report bear ample testimony to this. Therefore, it is now up to the marketers how they choose to leverage the findings of this report to their advantage and drive consumer interaction.


To delve deeper into the findings of this report, click here.