40 Fascinating Mobile App Industry Statistics [2022]: The Success Of Mobile Apps In The U.S.

By Jack Flynn
Oct. 19, 2022
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Research Summary. From checking Facebook to playing games to creating that Disney World itinerary on Canva, mobile apps are a regular part of the average American’s life. The fact is that mobile apps have grown immensely in popularity and value since their invention over a decade ago. With that in mind, our extensive research shows that:

  • There are over 5.7 million apps on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store combined.

  • There are over 2.2 million apps on the Apple App Store alone.

  • The average American has 80 apps downloaded on their phone.

  • The average smartphone owner uses 9-10 apps per day and 30 per month.

  • 85% of time spent on smartphones is spent using apps.

  • There were 230 billion app downloads worldwide in 2020.

  • The Apple App Store and Google Play Store made a combined $111 billion in 2021.

  • Since 2016, the number of apps downloaded per year has increased by 63%.

For further analysis, we broke down the data in the following ways:
App Users | Smartphone Users | Trends and Projections | User Retention | App Type | Popular Apps | Apple Apple Store vs. Google Play Store
annual app downloads per year

General Mobile App Industry Statistics

Incredibly common in the U.S. and worldwide, we’re spending more and more time on mobile apps. How pervasive are mobile apps? Well, our extensive research shows that, in general:

  • Between 2019-2020, there were over 250 million apps downloaded daily.

    That equates to over 91 billion apps downloaded each year, and that number is only expected to increase. By 2024, there could be as many as 500 million apps downloaded every day (184 billion by the end of the year), double that in 2020.

  • 98% of Google Play’s revenue comes from free apps.

    While free apps don’t cost anything to download, they’re still a form of marketing and can make money through advertisements. Companies like McDonald’s regularly make gaming apps for children with the sole purpose of marketing their brand. In that way, free apps and advertisements are surprisingly useful for generating revenue.

  • As of 2021, global consumer spending on apps reached $133 billion.

    That is a huge number, but it’s also a massive increase from the year prior. Consumers spent roughly $111 billion on apps in 2020, meaning that consumer spending has increased by 20% in only one year.

  • Global App Revenue 2016-2021

    Year Total App Revenue (in billions USD) iOS App Revenue Google Play App Revenue
    2016 $43.50 $28.60 $15
    2017 $58.10 $38.50 $21.20
    2018 $71.30 $46.60 $24.80
    2019 $89 $58.40 $30.60
    2020 $111 $72.30 $38.60
    2021 $133 $85.10 $47.90
  • By the end of 2022, consumer app spending is expected to reach $170 billion.

    That’s a projected 27.8% increase in consumer spending in 2021. Plus, consumer app spending is expected to grow larger by 2025. By 2025, consumer app spending may reach over $270 billion.

  • app store spending over time

  • By 2023, mobile apps are projected to generate at least $935 billion in revenue.

    For context, the industry generated $462 billion in 2019, meaning that in only 4-5 years, mobile app revenue will more than double. Most of this money will come from advertisements, but paid downloads will also generate a good portion.

Mobile App Industry Statistics by App Users

While the mobile app industry reaps the financial benefits of their products, they wouldn’t be able to do so if people didn’t download them. After all, it’s hard to find someone that doesn’t use mobile apps nowadays. Overall, when it comes to mobile app users, our research shows that:

  • The average user engages with 30 apps per month.

    In total, that equates to around two-thirds or more of the apps installed on the average consumer’s phone. Users also typically use at least 9-10 apps per day, therefore creating the 30:10 rule (30 apps in a month, 10 per day).

  • 51% of smartphone users check their apps 1-10 times per day.

    While that’s the majority of those surveyed, another 25% of users check their apps 11–20 times per day, 16% check 21-50 times per day, and 7% admit to opening apps more than 51 times every day.

  • 85% of the time spent on smartphones is spent using apps.

    However, this time is not divided evenly across all apps. For example, Facebook alone makes up 13% of U.S. minutes spent on apps, and Google follows at 12%. In fact, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple alone account for just over 30% of the time people spend on apps.

The average American has 80 apps on their phone and uses 10 per day

Mobile App Industry Statistics by Smartphone Users

Mobile apps wouldn’t exist without smartphones, and just like the mobile app industry, the use of smartphones is also on the rise. Smartphone usage and mobile app usage go hand-in-hand. Here are the facts:

  • As of 2022, there are roughly 6.65 billion smartphone users worldwide.

    That’s 86% of the global population. Since 2016, the number of smartphone users worldwide has grown by 50%, from only 3.67 billion (45% of the total population at the time). And this growth is only expected to continue, projected to reach 7.52 billion smartphone users by 2026.

  • The average American will check their phone once every 10-12 minutes.

    That means Americans check their phone at least 96 times per day. Though, statistically, that number is much higher, as 66% of Americans actually check their phones 160 times every day.

  • The average American spends at least 5 hours on their phone per day.

    More specifically, just under half of all Americans spend between 5-6 hours on their phones per day, while a further 22% spend 3-4 hours on average on their phone daily. Believe it or not, less than 5% of Americans spend less than an hour on their phone per day.

  • 62% of smartphone users won’t download an app to continue a transaction.

    And even of the 38% who will, half say that they would simply uninstall and delete the new app after their purchase is complete.

  • Americans still spend 1.87% more time on desktops than mobile.

    While mobile devices are more popular worldwide, Americans still slightly prefer their computers. Overall, spend an average of 3 hours 34 minutes on desktop and 3 hours and 30 minutes on mobile devices.

Mobile app usage has been trending upwards for many years, and all signs point to continued growth. With that in mind, here are some facts about mobile app industry trends and projections:

  • Mobile app revenue is expected to reach $201 billion by 2023.

    With a CAGR of 19.5%, mobile app revenue is experiencing impressive year-over-year growth. By 2025, consumer app spending may reach over $270 billion.

  • From 2020 to 2021, installs of shopping apps increased by 10% globally.

    Further, usage of these apps has increased at an even more telling rate, 30% year-over-year. Overall, more and more people are using apps like Amazon, Walmart, SHEIN, and more for their shopping.

  • TikTok is the most downloaded app in 2022, with over 104 million downloads in February alone.

    In January 2021, that number was 62 million downloads, which means the number of downloads increased by 46%. Further, in 2021 alone, TikTok amassed over 2 billion downloads globally.

  • From 2016 to 2021, yearly global app downloads increased by 63.5%.

    In 2016 there were 140.68 billion app downloads across the globe. That might seem like a lot, but downloads have actually risen to 230 billion in 2021. That’s an increase of nearly 90 billion apps downloaded per year.

  • From 2016 to 2021, app downloads have experienced an average year-over-year growth rate of 10.56%.

    Though, year-over-year growth can vary. The most impressive growth rate was 24.4% between 2016 and 2017 when app downloads grew from 140 billion per year to 175 billion. By contrast, the years that followed experience growth rates between 5-10%.

  • Business app downloads increased by 102% in 2020.

    The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected the way we work and, in turn, increased the number of business apps downloaded. In March of 2020 alone, business apps saw a massive 225% spike in downloads.

Mobile App Industry Statistics by User Retention

With so many mobile apps to choose from, companies are always trying to find ways to improve user retention. Overall, when it comes to user trends and preferences and the way they affect retention, here are some insights our research uncovered:

  • 50.6% of users will uninstall an app if it takes up too much memory on their phone.

    If you’ve ever played a massive video game like Red Dead Redemption II, you know the pain of not being able to fit anything on your hard drive. Mobile apps work similarly, as consumers will be less likely to keep an app on their phone if it’s too large and they’re looking to free up memory on their phone.

  • 71% of app users churn after three months.

    Rather than simply accounting for the number of uninstalls, the churn rate accounts for any form of abandonment. With that in mind, nearly three-fourths of all app users worldwide will stop engaging with or uninstall an app within three months of downloading it.

  • 62% of people uninstall an app if they experience crashes, freezes, or other major errors.

    Companies must avoid app crashes and errors, as they can have a major negative effect. Retention will worsen, and past users will be far more likely to leave negative reviews.

  • 25% of users will abandon apps simply because they take too long to load or download.

    Ideally, mobile apps should take no longer than 4 seconds to load if it wants to maintain user retention. Any longer, and users may abandon or uninstall the app.

  • After 30 days, app retention is highest for Ecommerce & Retail apps, at 39%.

    That includes apps like Amazon, Etsy, and many more. Most users find these apps useful over a long period, making them less likely to be uninstalled.

    Of course, if there’s a best, there’s also a worst, and 30-day retention is the lowest for Social Networking apps. This might be surprising, given that Facebook and other major social media sites dominate the time spent on apps, but many smaller social media apps see very high churn.

  • Retention Rate by Type of App

    Type of Mobile App 30 Day Retention Rate 60 Day Retention Rate 90 Day Retention Rate
    Media & Entertainment 37% 27% 22%
    Ecommerce & Retail 39% 27% 22%
    Travel & Lifestyle 38% 28% 23%
    Business & Technology 34% 23% 17%
    Social Networking 30% 20% 16%
  • After 90 days, app retention is highest for Travel & Lifestyle apps, which maintain a retention rate of 23%.

    While that’s a 39.5% decrease in retention from the 30-day rate of these apps, it’s still more than any other type of app by the 90-day mark. Once again, Social Networking apps score low here, with a 90-day retention rate of only 16%.

  • 47% of apps need more time for testing.

    For anything from bugs to security, nearly half of all apps released to the market are wholly unprepared to meet consumers. Believe it or not, 75% of mobile applications will fail basic security tests. Yikes.

  • 54% of marketers use mobile apps to market to their customers.

    Though this is over half, it’s still a surprisingly low percentage given the benefits. After all, half of all users say they’ve discovered a new company or product when searching and using apps on their smartphones.

Mobile App Industry Statistics by App Type

The mobile app industry is diverse, as not all apps serve the same purpose. From apps that tell you the weather to the latest in popular games, here are some of the facts about different types of apps:

  • 50% of app users mainly use apps for communication.

    Messengers and social media are a huge part of what makes apps so popular. For example, 40% of smartphone owners determined that social media apps are their most frequently used type of app, and 10% said the same about messaging apps.

  • frequently used apps

  • Gaming apps generate the most revenue, reaching $89.6 billion in 2021.

    Divided between the different app stores, gaming apps generated $37.3 billion (41%) for the Google Play Store and $52.3 billion (59%) for iOS. Comparably, only $43.4 billion in revenue was generated from all other non-gaming apps. That means gaming apps account for 67.36% of all app revenue.

  • As of 2021, 79% of smartphone users have used their mobile devices to make a purchase.

    Plus, when considering the fact that the average mobile phone purchase is $94.85, it’s unsurprising to see so many companies focus on apps and other forms of e-commerce advertising.

  • There are over 700,000 educational apps on the market.

    While social media and games may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of apps, there are still many educational apps available. In fact, as of 2021, there have been 470 million educational apps downloaded from the Apple App Store alone.

  • The most popular category of apps on the Apple App Store is gaming, which makes up 21.07% of all available apps.

    This is then followed by business apps (10.7%), education (8.66%), lifestyle (8.58%), and utility apps (6.39%). Additionally, there are also certain types of apps with very little presence on the app store, such as new apps, which make up only 1.78% of available apps.

  • top 5 most popular app types

  • 62% of people have a gaming app installed on their phone.

    As the most profitable app type, it isn’t shocking to see that many people download and enjoy gaming apps. Overall, games account for a considerable 43% of all smartphone usage.

  • 66.5% of smartphone owners use and rely on map apps.

    The most common utility apps, map apps, are a crucial aspect of smartphone ownership for many people. However, not all map apps are created equal; of the 66.5% of smartphone users who use map apps, 77% prefer Google Maps.

Despite there being millions of apps out there, many Americans all have the same popular apps downloaded on their phones. Whether it’s shopping apps like Amazon or social media apps like Instagram, here are some of the facts about popular mobile apps:

  • Facebook is the most popular app of all time, with over 4 billion downloads by 2020.

    Facebook is truly a giant in social media and app usage worldwide. In fact, Facebook Messenger is the second most popular app of all time, with over 3 billion downloads.

  • In the U.S., the most popular app downloaded in 2021 was TikTok, with 94 million downloads.

    TikTok has taken the world by storm, but there were several other popular apps downloaded in the U.S. as well. The remaining four of the top five most downloaded apps in 2021 include Instagram (64 million), Snapchat (56 million), Cash App (56 million), Zoom (52 million), and Facebook Messenger (51 million).

  • 35% of 18-34-year-olds agree that Amazon is the most important app to them.

    Other apps named essential by Millenials and Gen Z include Gmail (30%), Facebook (29%), Facebook Messenger (18%), and YouTube (16%).

  • most essential apps

  • 98.5% of Facebook users use the app via mobile device.

    Facebook has a massive amount of mobile usage, with only 1.5% of users accessing the platform exclusively on laptops or desktops. On the other hand, a whopping 81.8% of users only access Facebook on their phones.

  • desktop vs. mobile facebook usage

Mobile App Industry Statistics by Apple Apple Store vs. Google Play Store

While the Apple App Store is more profitable than the Google Play Store, both are home to most of the apps you can download. Here are some interesting facts about these mobile giants:

  • As of 2021, there were 5.7 million apps spread across the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

    The Google Play Store actually has more apps than the apple store; 3.48 million. That leaves 2.22 million apps available for download on the Apple App Store.

  • apps available in 2021

  • The Google Play Store has slightly more free apps available, with 97% of available downloads being free.

    percentage of free apps over time

    However, the Apple App Store also has a high number of free apps, at 93.9%. Overall, most apps you can find on either store are free and profit from ad revenue.

Mobile App Industry Statistics FAQ

  1. How big is the mobile app industry?

    With over 5.7 million apps spread across the largest app stores, the mobile app industry is huge. A whopping 230 billion app downloads occurred worldwide in 2020, increasing 63.5% from 2016.

    And all of these app downloads (despite most being free) make tons of money. As of 2021, global consumer spending on apps reached $133 billion, and by 2023, mobile apps are projected to generate at least $935 billion in revenue.

    With all of that in mind, it’s easy to see just how massive the global mobile app industry truly is.

  2. What percentage of companies have mobile apps?

    33% of American retailers have at least one app. And these numbers are even higher for young entrepreneurs and small businesses. 42% of small businesses now have a mobile app, and most Millennial-owned businesses (55%) have a mobile app.

    Overall, most major companies do rely on apps, though. From Facebook to Amazon, it’s hard to come by a Fortune 500 company without one.

  3. How competitive is the mobile app industry?

    The mobile app industry is very competitive. This is mainly due to the sheer volume of apps and other factors like the size and money behind the giant companies you’re competing against.

    Users don’t want to wait more than 4 seconds for an app to load, and 62% of people uninstall an app if they experience crashes, freezes, or any other major errors.

    With that in mind, not living up to the extremely high standards of customers or not being able to put as much money into creating apps as major corporations can make producing a successful app extremely difficult. That’s why the mobile app market is so competitive.

  4. What percentage of apps are successful?

    Only 0.5% of apps are successful. 9,999 out of 10,000 apps will fail for various reasons. Here are the most common ones cited by experts:

    • Below 1,000 downloads: 67.8%

    • Below 1,000 active users: 17.9%

    • No revenue or profit: 7.2%

    • Lack of user retention: 6.6%

    Besides not having enough downloads, which is the major issue, not having active users or user retention can quickly lead to failure. After all, 71% of app users churn after three months. With that high of a percentage, it’s clear that it’s hard to keep users engaged.

  5. What demographic uses apps the most?

    Millennials between the ages of 18-34 use mobile apps the most. This demographic uses mobile apps an average of 10.5 times per day. Then followed by:

    • Gen Z (13-17): 9.4 times per day

    • Gen X (35-54): 7.7 times per day

    • Boomers (55-64): 5.5 times per day

  6. What is the most popular mobile app?

    Facebook is the most popular app of all time, with over 4 billion downloads by 2020.

    Facebook is truly a giant in social media and app usage worldwide. In fact, Facebook Messenger is the second most popular app of all time, with over 3 billion downloads.

    However, going by the number of downloads in 2021 alone, TikTok is the most popular app in the U.S. and globally. In February of 2022, TikTok saw over 104 million downloads. Further, in 2021 alone, TikTok amassed over 2 billion downloads globally.

  7. What is the most profitable mobile app?

    Netflix is currently the most profitable mobile app of all time. Despite no longer selling subscriptions through the app store, the company consistently generates billions of dollars in revenue every quarter.

    Other highly profitable mobile apps include Spotify, which also generates revenue through paid subscriptions, Tencent (a Chinese app similar to Netflix), and Tinder. What these apps all have in common are subscriptions and premium services.

Conclusion

Mobile apps are a huge industry in the U.S. and across the globe. There are over 5.7 million apps in the Google Play and Apple App Stores and 230 billion app downloads in 2020 alone. And those numbers are growing, just like every other aspect of the industry. The mobile app market has become bigger and bigger, from yearly revenue to consumer spending.

Knowing that, it’s unsurprising to see why the sheer number of apps available and low consumer retention rates have led to an incredibly competitive market. Despite this, many companies and small businesses continue to invest in apps due to their popularity, which will likely continue.

References

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  4. SensorTower. “Global Consumer Spending in Mobile Apps Reached $133 Billion in 2021, Up Nearly 20% from 2020.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

  5. SensorTower. “5-Year Market Forecast: App Spending Will Climb to $270 Billion by 2025.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

  6. Statista. “Revenue of mobile apps worldwide 2017-2025, by segment.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

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  18. Oberlo. “Mobile Commerce Sales in 2021.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

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  20. Statista. “Most popular app categories in the United States during 3rd quarter 2020, by reach.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

  21. Connections Publishing. “World’s Most Popular Apps in 2020.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

  22. BusinessofApps. “Most Popular Apps (2022).” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

  23. Marketing Charts. “Millennials’ Most Essential Mobile App? It’s Not A Social One.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

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  26. Statista. “Distribution of free and paid iOS apps in the Apple App Store as of March 2022.” Accessed on March 22nd, 2022.

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Author

Jack Flynn

Jack Flynn is a writer for Zippia. In his professional career he’s written over 100 research papers, articles and blog posts. Some of his most popular published works include his writing about economic terms and research into job classifications. Jack received his BS from Hampshire College.

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