App market set to beat the virus and hit $174 billion in 2024

All over the world, market analysts are revising their forecasts. Whatever the industry, Covid-19 has got everyone pressing re-set on their Excel spreadsheets

The app market is no exception – though unlike many other sectors, the impact has been both positive and negative. Covid-19 has affected the app economy in two contrasting ways. On the one hand, people are downloading more. They’re staying indoors and working from home. So they are using digital communication and education tools in huge numbers.

On the other hand, there’s economic uncertainty. No one is buying any more than they need.

Analyst Sensor Tower has been working on its 2020-2024 Mobile Market Forecast report for many months. At the last minute, it had to revise it to factor in the virus.

Its conclusion? Covid 19’s impact will be minimal:

We project that global consumer spending in mobile apps and games during 2020 will suffer only marginally as the result of reduced purchasing power brought about by COVID-19, compared to our initial forecasts for the year.

We’ve been looking through the report and have boiled down its main findings here…

Long term impact of the virus? Just two percent in four years
By 2024 (we hope) the virus will be a memory, and the app market will be in great shape. Sensor Tower thinks so. Here are its key numbers:

  • Global spending in mobile apps in 2024: $171 billion
  • Projected spend in 2024 before Covid-19: $174 billion
  • Impact? $3 billion (two percent)

So the market is still set to grow 15 percent year on year.

Spending in mobile apps to pass $100 billion for the first time in 2020
Despite the panedemic, the total market will still grow by $17 billion this year. It will rise from $85bn of spend in 2019 to $102bn in 2020.

App install boom ahead – especially on Android
Sensor Tower thinks the short term spike in app downloads during the lockdown will deliver a long term impact. Last year, people downloaded 115 billion apps. By 2024? 183.7 billion. And Google Play will be the big winner, with 139.2 billion downloads – up 65 percent over 2019’s total.

Here are the annual download totals for Google Play only:
2019 – $84.5bn
2020 – $101.6bn
2021 – $109.5bn
2022 – $119bn
2023 – $129bn
2024 – $139.2bn

Google Play spend to hit $55.5 billion in 2024
Unsurprisingly, Google Play revenue remains substantially less than that of App Store. Android users will spend $34.7 billion this year, which is just over half of the total IoS users spend. But the numbers are still growing fast.

Here are the yearly totals Google Play spend:
2019 – $29.8bn
2020 – $34.7bn
2021 – $40.4bn
2022 – $45.4bn
2023 – $50.5bn
2024 – $55.5bn

Android downloads in India will grow by 13 billion in four years
The rate of growth in India will dwarf all other regions in the coming years. According the report, Indians downloaded 20 billion apps on Google Play in 2019. In 2024, they will install 33 billion – driven partly by the popularity of hyper-casual games.

Brazil the big mover in App Store spending
Sensor Tower expects the top six countries in terms of Google Play spending to stay the same between now and 2024. They are: US, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Taiwan and Great Britain.

However, there is some movement in the top 10. And that’s thanks to Brazil. It was the No. 2 country by Google Play downloads in 2019, yet ranked only No. 10 by revenue. But by 2024, it will move up to seventh by revenue.

Games category dominates, but its share is falling
Gaming is the driving force of the app market. And its share relative to other categories is much higher on Google Play than the App Store (85 per cent share vs 68 per cent respectively in 2019).

That said, the other categories are closing the gap – a little. Here are the projections to 2024.

2019 share of spend (%)
Games – 85%
Social – 2%
Entertainment – 2%
Productivity – 2%
Lifestyle – 2%
Sports – 1%
Other – 7%

2024 share of spend (%)
Games – 74%
Social – 4%
Entertainment – 3%
Productivity – 3%
Lifestyle – 2%
Sports – 1%
Other – 14%

The message to the Calldorado community is straightforward. Take the long view of this crisis. Over the coming months and years, the app market is still on course for significant growth.

Today, apps are at the centre of people’s lives. That won’t change, and the economic cycle will turn eventually. Be ready to develop the products that billions of consumers want.