In 2022 we spent a huge 4.1 trillion hours on our mobiles globally, which tells us that we’re relying on mobile devices more than ever. However, global economic uncertainty, driven by the rising cost-of-living and inflation, rocked the mobile market at the end of last year, with consumer spend in apps declining by -2% after years of dizzying growth. As a result, app publishers were left to question what might happen next, and how best to position for this new climate.
data.ai’s latest State of Mobile report is revealing because, while consumers are continuing to take a cost-conscious approach to many aspects of their lives, when it comes to mobile usage, the data tells a different story. In March, we were set to spend more in app stores in Q1 2023 than in any other quarter on record, reaching $33.9 billion worldwide. So, what sets mobile usage apart for consumers and what features support its continued growth?
Everything at our fingertips
In recent years, we’ve grown accustomed to carrying around banks, shops, games, cinemas and more in our pockets. We expect this level of accessibility from our service providers across every sector, and as a result, more and more apps are being developed and downloaded. Increasingly, we’re seeing more services and industries venturing into the mobile market to capitalise on this demand for convenience. In 2022, business communication app downloads grew by 33% and UK users spent over 58 million hours learning languages from their phones – consumers are hungry for more mobile services, and publishers are providing it.
Even as shops reopened, consumers still turned to their phones for groceries. In the UK, sessions in food and grocery delivery apps have climbed steadily from 170 million in Q1 2019 to a huge 550 million in Q4 2022. Apps like Getir, Deliveroo and Too Good To Go all offer a different type of food delivery service (groceries, fast-food and surplus food), yet they are all driven by one thing - convenience.
Driving a mobile democracy
One of the great things about the mobile industry is its democratic nature. For the most part, apps are easy to use, easily accessible and often, free. While this is an advantage to every app genre, gaming in particular benefits from this. In the past, the perception of gaming has been that it’s time-consuming, dependent on costly hardware and complex. Thanks to the innovations in mobile gaming, this is no longer the case.
Hypercasual games are one of the most popular gaming genres. In the UK alone, we downloaded 290 million of them in 2022. These types of games focus on a core mechanic, like parking a car or hitting a ball. Think of Candy Crush or Flappy Bird, two infamous hypercasual games, which are extremely easy to play and equally addictive. Irrespective of age, gaming experience or location, users can game from their phones, and as a result, join the gaming community.
We’re also seeing this democratisation in finance. For many people, banking and managing finances can be a stressful, complex and intimidating exercise. Recognising this, neobanks have entered the market, offering digital-only financial services that are designed to be convenient, accessible, and easy to use. While the user bases for traditional banks still dwarf those from neobanks, due to their long-standing history in the financial market, neobanks have closed the gap in user engagement. Average monthly time spent per UK user for top neobanks trailed traditional banks by only 4 minutes in 2022 – a clear indication that mobile support is a highly attractive feature and a sign for traditional banks to improve their digital presence.
So, what’s next?
Due to its reliance on consumer activity, the mobile market is always going to experience some level of unpredictability and turbulence. Innovation is key but the app publishers which succeed in 2023 will be those that cater towards this clear demand for everyday ease of use and convenience. While economic uncertainty and the rising cost-of-living may drive periods of instability in the mobile market this year, the reliance on mobile services isn't going anywhere. And nor are our favourite apps.