App downloads were stagnant in the fourth quarter, new analysis finds
One of the key measures of success in the app economy is the number of app downloads. And according to a new analysis, app downloads were stagnant in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The analysis, from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, found that there were 26.5 billion app downloads worldwide in the fourth quarter, a 0.8 percent increase from the 26.2 billion downloads in the third quarter.
The United States was the largest market for app downloads, with 9.1 billion downloads in the fourth quarter, followed by China (8.6 billion), India (3.3 billion), and Brazil (2 billion).
The stagnating growth in app downloads is in line with other data that points to a slowing app economy. For example, another recent analysis from Sensor Tower found that global app revenue growth was just 3 percent in 2020, down from 15 percent in 2019.
There are a number of factors that could be contributing to the slowdown in app downloads and revenue growth. One is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to a slowdown in the global economy. Another is the maturing of the app market, which is now over a decade old. As the market matures, it is natural for growth to slow down.
Another factor that could be contributing to the slowdown is the rise of alternative app stores, such as the Google Play Store and the Amazon Appstore. These alternative app stores are taking market share away from the traditional app store, the Apple App Store.
Despite the slowdown in growth, the app economy remains a large and important part of the global economy. In 2020, the global app economy was worth an estimated $444 billion, and it is expected to grow to $645 billion by 2023.
App downloads were stagnant in the fourth quarter, new analysis finds.
Apple’s App Store and Google Play combined saw 7.8 billion downloads in the fourth quarter of 2020, up just 0.1% from the same period a year earlier, according to new data from Sensor Tower.
That marks the first time growth has flatlined in the history of the app stores, the researcher said.
“The global app economy showed early signs of deceleration in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in early March,” said Sensor Tower analyst Spencer Taylor.
“While this did result in a slight acceleration in downloads in the second quarter as people looked for ways to stay entertained at home, the overall effect on the app stores was to stunt growth for the first time.”
Taylor said the pandemic “accelerated many longtime trends in the app stores,” such as the shift to digital subscriptions and in-app purchases.
Apple’s App Store saw 48.9 billion downloads in 2020, up 2.2% from 2019. Google Play, meanwhile, had 31.6 billion downloads, up 3.2% from the previous year.
The United States was the largest market for app downloads in 2020, with 9.3 billion downloads on the App Store and 8.4 billion on Google Play. China was second, with 8.2 billion downloads on the App Store and 8.1 billion on Google Play.
Indie developers saw the biggest gains on the App Store in 2020, with downloads increasing 11.2% to reach 1.8 billion. Games were the most popular category on the App Store, with 2.2 billion downloads, followed by entertainment apps with 1.6 billion.