We Have Been Spending An Awful Lot Of Time Glued To Our Phones And It Is Making App Companies Very Rich

It was perhaps not a hidden secret that over the past 12 months or so, that we all have been spending far too much time glued to our smartphone screens. And bad habits often last long, so better watch out for this one. Nevertheless, app analytics platform App Annie has now put numbers to the situation, and they are in equal parts mind-boggling and worrying. The highlights—there were as many as 218 billion new app downloads in 2020 across all app stores and platforms, users spent as much as $143 billion on app purchases and spent an average of 4.2 hours looking at their smartphone screens as life passed us by.

The App Annie data says that the 218 billion in new app downloads is a 7% increase year-on-year and indicates that app habits haven’t fully formed yet and there is still demand for new apps. The amount of time we have all collectively wasted last year on communication platforms in particular, such as WhatsApp, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, the lack of app habits is surprising. Users spent 3.5 trillion hours doing something or the other on their Android phones alone and India’s share in that was 650.660 billion hours. In India, on just Android phones alone, the average daily time spent on mobile was clocked at 4.6 hours. This was up from 3.3 hours per day in 2019.

Indian smartphone users across platforms also clocked the highest engagement with financial platforms, such as mobile wallets, digital payments apps, shopping for major purchases like a car or a house, financial services such as loans or making investments. In the APAC region, India led the way followed by Indonesia and Japan. At the same time, China saw a decline in financial app downloads after new regulations came into place for the peer-to-peer lending services. The App Annie data says that in terms of the time spent in 2020, the breakout apps in the financial services space in India are Kite Zerodha, Google Pay, PhonePe, Angel Broking and Moneycontrol.

For social media apps, TikTok was by far and away the most popular app globally in a segment that saw an incredible 325% year-on-year growth. TikTok surpassed Facebook on the monthly average time spent metric in many countries, including China, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, USA, Germany and UK to name a few. In India, the breakout social media platforms are Telegram, WhatsApp Messenger, Instagram, MX TakaTak and Moj. TikTok was banned in India in the late summer, as part of the multiple phases that also saw other popular Chinese owned apps banned in India, including the PUBG Mobile game.

Video streaming platforms were the savior when everyone remained indoors during the coronavirus pandemic. App Annie data says that 40% more hours were streamed on mobile in 2020 than the year before. China led the way with close to 100 billion hours in multiple quarters while India peaked close to 50 billion hours of video streaming. While Netflix is the leading video streaming platform in many countries, is Netflix, but India found its entertainment on MX Player, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Airtel Xstream TV app and WeTV. It is surprising that the likes of Disney+ Hotstar, Sony Liv and Zee5 don’t feature in the top five most popular streaming apps in India.

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