Mobile app usage surged 25% in Q3 as coronavirus keeps people home

Mobile phone users spent more than 180 million hours on apps for each month of July, August and September

Mobile app usage surged 25% in the third quarter of 2020 as people continue to work and find entertainment online during the coronavirus pandemic, new research shows.

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Mobile phone users spent more than 180 billion hours on apps for each month of July, August and September, according to a new report from app data and analytics website App Annie.

"As communities rebound from the first wave of COVID-19 and brace for a second wave, mobile usage remains high globally — solidifying mobile’s role in our lives as consumers embed new app-habits and prioritize socially distant, yet connective, activities for remote learning, working from home, and shopping from the comfort and ease of their mobile devices," Lexi Sydow, a senior market insight manager for App Annie, wrote in a blog post.

Apps displayed on iPhone (iStock)

Google Play downloads increased 10% year-over-year to a total of 25 billion while iOS App Store downloads increased 20% to a total of 9 billion. Non-gaming apps made up the majority of downloads for both mobile app stores, according to the report.

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The top most-downloaded apps were, in order: TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp Messenger, Zoom, Google Meet, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Snack Video, Telegram and Snapchat. Apps that received the most consumer spend include Tinder, TikTok, YouTube, Disney+, Tencent Video, Google One, BIGO Live, Netflix, piccoma and iQIYI.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FBFACEBOOK INC.282.54+5.43+1.96%
ZMZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS INC.529.85+12.06+2.33%
GOOGLALPHABET INC.1,594.86+10.56+0.67%
SNAPSNAP INC.41.26-0.03-0.06%
NFLXNETFLIX INC.487.50-0.74-0.15%
DISWALT DISNEY COMPANY123.31-0.70-0.56%

The United States and China made up the largest app download markets for iOS while India and Brazil made up the largest app download markets for Google.

Additionally, game, tool and entertainment apps made up the most downloads on Google Play; on the App Store, game, photo/video and entertainment apps make up the most downloads.

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Library and demo apps, as well as dating and event apps, saw quarterly surges in downloads on Google Play of 310%, 100% and 45%, respectively. In Europe and the U.S., travel, navigation and weather apps saw quarterly download surges of 50%, 25% and 15%, according to the report.

Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Consumer app spending also reached record highs amid COVID-19. On the App Store, spending increased 20% year-over-year to $18 billion in the third quarter, and spending on Google Play grew 35% year over year to over $10 billion.

"While the timeline for a full 'return to normal' is still unclear for many markets, app developers from all sectors will need to focus on how they can leverage and adapt mobile technology to create personalized and engaging customer experiences," Sydow wrote.

She added that "mobile data can help businesses adapt to changing consumer demand and preference ... indicate timely opportunities for partnerships and illuminate where is best to spend your marketing dollars."

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