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The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

Speaking at the 1983 International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado, a 28-year-old Steve Jobs described a future in which consumers could purchase and download the software directly from their computers. 25 years later, in 2008, Apple launched the Apple App Store, Google launched Google Play (née Android Market), and the mobile app economy was officially introduced to global markets.

In this article, we take a measuring stick to the mobile app landscape, analyzing where it stands 13 years after the debut of the world’s largest, most popular app stores. To make sure we’re all on the same page, we’ll begin with a brief definition of the app economy. Then, we’ll breakdown the current state of the app economy and app markets, by answering the following questions:

  1. What does the mobile app economy look like today?

  2. Which app categories have had the best year?

  3. Which app categories have had the worst year?

  4. Which app developers are dominating global markets?

  5. Which apps are dominating global markets?

  6. Which SDKs are integrated in the most apps?

So, with that, let’s begin!

What is the app economy?

Put succinctly, the mobile app economy refers to the range of economic activities stemming from the development and distribution of mobile apps and games. The app economy includes device manufacturers, operating system developers, app distribution platforms (i.e. the Apple App Store, Google Play, etc.), mobile app and game publishers, software companies and API/SDK developers, ad networks and other mobile advertising companies, app data and analytics companies, and more.

What does the mobile app economy look like today?

According to Statista, the global app economy is on track to reach an estimated value of USD $6.3 trillion in 2021 (up from USD $3.3 trillion in 2019), with roughly USD $693 billion in annual revenue.

Of course, considering the way 2020 played out, all estimates should be taken with a rather sizable grain of salt. While the app economy was better positioned to weather the coronavirus storm than most industries, the ultimate effects are, as of yet, unknown.

For instance, while ride-sharing, travel, and navigation apps like Lyft, Uber, AirBnB, and Waze are set to take a big hit, others have flourished under lockdown. Indeed, entertainment, video chat, news, health, and delivery apps have all experienced incredible growth. Most notable, of course, are digital communications platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Coronavirus App Download Statistics: Microsoft Teams Thrives

In other words, the effects of coronavirus on the global app economy could go either way; and it’s quite possible that the pandemic has actually accelerated a number of positive economic trends, such as remote work, that pre-exist lockdown. Thus, the success of Microsoft Teams, Netflix, and Zoom could prove far more predictive of the future of the app economy than the faltering of Airbnb and Uber.

Consider this. According to Apple, since April 2019, the iOS app economy has managed to create 300,000 new jobs in the United States alone. Despite government imposed lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, the App Store ecosystem now supports over 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states.

In any event, if we are to predict what the future holds with any accuracy, it’s important to understand the current state of the app economy and app markets. So, to begin our investigation, we’ll take a look at the most important mobile app distribution platforms — the app stores!

While the Apple App Store and Google Play remain the most popular places to download mobile apps and games, they are by no means the only places to do so. In addition to the big guys, we at 42matters track app market data from the Amazon Appstore and Tencent MyApp. We also provide insight into Connected TV (CTV) app stores, including the Roku Channel Store, Apple TV tvOS App Store, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV Apps, the LG Content Store, and Vizio SmartCast Apps. Let’s take a look at some of these individually.

1. Apple App Store

Following the success of the iTunes digital music store, the Apple App Store, which made its debut in 2008, became one of the world’s first commercially successful mobile app marketplaces. Today it connects millions of iOS device users to millions of mobile apps and games from developers and publishers all over the world.

How Many Apps Are on the Apple App Store?

The Apple App Store offers 1,763,623 apps.

How Many App Publishers Are on the Apple App Store?

1,444,239 app developers have published their apps on the Apple App Store.

What Is the Distribution of Apps Versus Games on Apple App Store?

Of the 1,763,623 apps available on the Apple App Store, 245,725 are gaming apps and 1,517,898 are non-gaming apps.

How Many Apps Are Published on the Apple App Store per Day?

An average of 874 new apps are released on the Apple App Store every day.

All data was pulled June 25, 2021. For the latest App Store stats, check out our store stats pages.

2. Google Play

Launched in 2008, Google Play was a direct response to the Apple App Store, which had gone to market just a few months earlier. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system, enabling users to browse and download mobile apps and games developed with the Android software development kit (SDK).

How Many Apps Are on Google Play?

Google Play offers 3,416,361 apps.

How Many App Publishers Are on Google Play?

770,193 app developers have published their apps on Google Play.

What Is the Distribution of Apps Versus Games on Google Play?

Of the 3,416,361 apps available on Google Play, 440,240 are gaming apps and 2,976,121 are non-gaming apps.

How Many Apps Are Published on Google Play per Day?

An average of 2,028 new apps are released on Google Play every day.

All data was pulled June 25, 2021. For the latest Google Play stats, check out our store stats pages.

3. Amazon Appstore

In 2011, following the success of companies like Google and Apple in the digital entertainment and mobile application space, Amazon launched the Amazon Appstore. It serves Android- and Fire OS-enabled devices, such as the Kindle Fire tablet and a host of BlackBerry products.

The Amazon Appstore now boasts a catalog of over 688,049 mobile apps and games.

For more Amazon Appstore stats, check out our store stats pages.

4. Amazon FireTV

Amazon’s first Fire TV was launched in early 2014. It was the company’s response to the digital streaming trend that culminated in the Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku’s various streaming devices and smart appliances, and more.

Currently, there are over 12,280 apps available on Amazon FireTV.

For more Amazon FireTV stats, check out our store stats pages.
 

5. Apple TV tvOS App Store

Apple has been particularly innovative in the digital entertainment space. Building off the wild success of iTunes and the Apple App store, the company launched the Apple TV digital media player in 2007 and the tvOS operating system in 2015.

To date, the Apple TV tvOS App Store offers more than 15,039 apps.

For more Apple TV tvOS App Store stats, check out our store stats pages.

6. Roku Channel Store

The Roku connected TV revolutionized home entertainment. Founded in Los Gatos, California in 2002, their diverse catalog of products now covers everything from streaming devices, to smart-TVs, to high-end audio solutions.

However, their real moneymaker is the Roku Channel Store, which allows users to add their favorite “channels” to their Roku and Roku-powered devices in the same manner as the Apple App Store enables Apple device users to download their favorite apps across their entire profile. 

The Roku Channel Store currently offers over 25,240 apps.

For more Roku Channel Store stats, check out our store stats pages.

7. Tencent MyApp

Not only is Tencent the world's largest gaming company, they are also one of the world's largest social media companies and one of the world's largest venture capital firms and investment corporations.

In 2011, the company launched the Tencent MyApp, which was based on a reworked version of the company’s Tencent QQ, an instant messaging service and web portal. The new appstore facilitates the download of apps for Android, iOS, Symbian, and Windows devices.

Today the platform boasts a catalog of 38,056 mobile apps

For more Tencent Appstore stats, check out our store stats pages.

Which Android app categories have had the best year? Which Android app categories have had the worst year?

Moving on, we’ll now take a look at which Android app categories have had the most success, as well as which have had the most trouble, over the last 12 months. These numbers are determined by the number of app downloads for each category.

The Best 5 Upward-trending Google Play App Categories by Downloads from 06/2020 – 05/2021:

Top upward-trending Android categories — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021


So far, the “Role playing” category has had the best year, registering a 29.86% growth in downloads. This is followed by “Puzzle” at 20.09%, “Adventure” at 13.45%, “Educational” at 11.16%, and “Strategy” at 10.55%.

The 5 Most Downward-trending Google Play App Categories by Downloads from 06/2020 – 05/2021

Top downward-trending Android categories — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021


Now for the categories that have struggled. “Board” took the biggest hit, registering a 5.88% decline in downloads. This was followed by “Card,” which dropped by 4.59%; “Sports,” which dropped by 1.67%; “Casual,” which dropped by 0.28%; and “Action,” which dropped by 0.04%.

All data was pulled June 25, 2021. For more on Android app category trends, check out our website.

Which app developers are dominating global markets?

We’ve taken a look at some of the world’s largest app markets and ranked the top five Android developers based in each country. We’ve determined our rankings by estimating how many times their apps have been downloaded in total.

1. United States

1.Google LLC — 180 apps, 164+ billion downloads

2.Facebook — 21 apps, 14+ billion downloads

3.Microsoft Corporation — 100 apps, 9.5+ billion downloads

4.WhatsApp Inc. — 3 apps, 7+ billion downloads

5.Motorola Mobility— 56 apps, 4.5+ billion downloads

2. China

1.Xiaomi Inc. — 19 apps, 5.4+ billion downloads

2.Huawei Internet Services — 7 apps, 3.4+ billion downloads

3.UCWeb Singapore Pte. Ltd. — 3 apps, 1.3+ billion downloads

4.Shalltry Group — 14 apps, 1.1+ billion downloads

5.Huawei Internet Service — 11 apps, 1+ billion downloads

3. India

1.Smart Media4U Technology Pte.Ltd. — 5 apps, 1.7+ billion downloads

2.Samsung R&D Institute India Noida — 9 apps, 1.5+ billion downloads

3.Jio Platforms Limited — 35 apps, 1+ billion downloads

4.Truecaller — 2 apps, 775+ million downloads

5.Airtel — 12 apps, 545+ million downloads

4. United Kingdom

1.Spotify Ltd. — 8 apps, 1+ billion downloads

2.SwiftKey — 2 apps, 864+ million downloads

3.Badoo — 2 apps, 290+ million downloads

4.Wasabi — 181 apps, 184+ million downloads

5.IMDb — 2 apps, 161+ million downloads

5. Germany

1.SoundCloud — 2 apps, 319+ million downloads

2.upday GmbH & Co. KG — 3 apps, 190+ million downloads

3.RARLAB (published by win.rar GmbH) — 1 app, 138+ million downloads

4.TeamViewer — 198 apps, 137+ million downloads

5.Joyride Dating — 3 apps, 136+ million downloads


For the latest country-specific app publisher insights, check out our website.

Which apps are dominating global markets?

On to the apps! We’ve ranked the five most popular Android apps, in terms of estimated total downloads for five of the largest global app markets.

1. United States

1.TikTok - Trends Start Here — TikTok Inc.

2.Google Pay: A safe & helpful way to manage moneyGoogle LLC

3.Cash App Square, Inc.

4.Zoom Cloud Meetings zoom.us

5.Disney+ Disney

2. China

1.Twitter Twitter, Inc.

2.YouTube — Google LLC

3.TelegramTelegram FZ-LLC

4.InstagramInstagram

5.Google Chrome: Fast & SecureGoogle LLC

3. India

1.Instagram — Instagram

2.SnapchatSnap Inc

3.Josh: Indian Short & New Trending Snack Videos App Ver Se Innovation

4.mAst: Music Status Video Maker, Video Editor — Mast Team

5.Google Meet Google LLC

4. United Kingdom

1.NHS App NHS Digital

2.NHS COVID-19 Department of Health and Social Care

3.Microsoft TeamMicrosoft Corporation

4.QR & Barcode ScannerGamma Play

5.Greene King —  Greene King PLC

5. Germany

1.CovPass Robert Koch-Institut

2.lucaculture4life GmbH

3.Corona-Warn-App Robert Koch-Institut

4.Amazon Alexa Amazon Mobile LLC

5.ZDFmediathek & Live TV ZDFonline

For the latest country-specific app market statistics, be sure to visit our website.

 

Which SDKs are integrated in the most apps?

Last, but certainly not least, SDKs! Short for Software Development Kits, SDKs play an increasingly important role in the mobile app ecosystem, enabling everything from app monetization to app development.

At 42matters, we track 1,300+ SDKs across 13 different SDK categories. So, we’ve ranked the most popular Android SDKs, in terms of market share, for 10 of these categories. Here are the top three SDKs for each:

1. Ad Network

1.Google Ads AdMobGoogle LLC

1 Top Ad Network SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Facebook Audience Network Facebook

2 Top Ad Network SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.Unity AdsUnity Technologies

3 Top Ad Network SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021
 

2. Analytics

1.Google FirebaseGoogle LLC

1 Top Analytics SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Firebase Crashlytics Fabric Google LLC

2 Top Analytics SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.Google AnalyticsGoogle LLC

3 Top Analytics SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3. Attribution

1.AppsFlyerAppsFlyer

1 Top Attribution SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Adjust — Adjust

2 Top Attribution SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.Branch - Tune Branch.io

3 Top Attribution SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

4. Commerce

1.Google Play In-app billingGoogle LLC

1 Top Commerce SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Stripe — Stripe

2 Top Commerce SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.Google Play License Verification Library — Google LLC

3 Top Commerce SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

5. Communication

1.OneSignalOneSignal

1 Top Communication SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.IntercomIntercom

2 Top Communication SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.Urban AirshipAirship

3 Top Communication SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

6. Marketing Automation

1.IntercomIntercom

1 Top Marketing Automation SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Branch - TuneBranc.io

2 Top Marketing Automation SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.PushwooshPushwoosh

3 Top Marketing Automation SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

7. Data Intelligence

1.AltBeacon by Radius Networks Radius Networks

1 Top Data Intelligence SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Kontakt.io Kontakt.io

2 Top Data Intelligence SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.EstimoteEstimote

3 Top Data Intelligence SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

8. Backend

1.Google FirebaseGoogle LLC

1 Top Backend SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Amazon AWSAmazon Web Services, Inc.

2 Top Backend SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

9. CRM

1.Intercom — Intercom

1 Top CRM SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021)

2.Zendesk— Zendesk

2 Top CRM SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021)

3.Batch Batch

3 Top CRM SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021)

10. Social

1.FacebookFacebook

1 Top Social SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

2.Google Play Game Services Google LLC

2  Top Social SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

3.FabricGoogle LLC

3  Top Social SDKs — The State of the App Economy and App Markets in 2021

To learn more about these and other SDKs, be sure to check out the 42matters SDK Explorer!

What’s the bottom line?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predictions are very, very hard to make. Especially for something as intricate as the mobile app economy. So, we’ll leave our grander prognostications where they lie, except to say that it’s quite possible that the global app economy comes out of 2020 relatively strong.

Indeed, many of the pre-pandemic world’s most interesting social and economic trends — remote work, decentralized entertainment, the rise of dating apps, the preeminence of social media, etc. — have proven to be incredibly resilient.

That’s not to say the mobile app landscape will come out completely unscathed. Some of the top publishers in the world have struggled to stay afloat. Airbnb, for instance, laid off roughly 25% of its workforce and had to raise about $2 billion in equity and debt to bolster its balance sheet.

Moreover, there are far more serious threats to the app economy than government lockdowns and social distancing. Mark Zuckerberg and his Silicon Valley compatriots can’t go more than a few months without getting hauled in front of the United States Congress; a budding “Tech Cold War” between the United States and China has led to increased scrutiny of China-based tech giants like TikTok and Huawei; and, as the recent allegations against Mintegral demonstrate, ad fraud and user privacy are likely to plague the industry for years to come.

Want to do your own research on the state of the app economy?

Regardless of what the future holds, 42matters has your back. We provide app insights, data, and analytics via a host of useful APIs, file dumps, the 42matters Explorer, and the 42matters SDK Explorer.

The Explorer, which is free for 14-days, is an app market research tool that provides a comprehensive look at app market trends and statistics. This includes in-depth, visual insights into app download trends, categories, IAB categories, metadata, rating and review analyses, and more. You can also download this data as a CSV and leverage it however you like — in your own algorithms, analyses, products, studies, etc.

Along the same lines, you can use our file dumps to examine and deploy raw app market data. These are hosted on AWS S3 and come in the form of a multi-line JSON file.

To learn how 42matters can help you stay informed on the state of the app economy, schedule a free demo with one of our experts.