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UPDATED: March 2, 2023
What began in 2009 as a mere tagline has become a near-definitive statement of the mobile industry: There’s an app for that. Indeed.
With over 2.87 million apps available for download on the Google Play Store and 1.96 million apps available on Apple’s App Store, we may have reached peak app saturation, with literally hundreds of app choices for any use case you can think of.
Here’s some more stats*. In 2022, we saw:
Quick answer: because it’s a digital world, and more people worldwide have a smartphone than ever before — a cool 6.3 billion of them to be exact (and another 1.4 billion on tablets).*
And every one of these users has needs, many of which can be solved with an app. Shopping, buying, traveling, eating, dating, gaming, even meditating and sleeping are all things we regularly now do with the aid of an app.
So, each year at CleverTap we like to take stock of the state of the mobile app landscape to see what the macro trends are showing and to find out what apps are trending and which are lagging. Naturally, as our lives and society changes (pandemic anyone?) our use of mobile apps ebbs and flows as well.
So, let’s find out what changes were afoot in 2022 and what apps we used to address our latest and greatest needs and challenges.
Below, we feature the top 10 most popular apps in the free, paid, and highest-grossing categories — in both the App Store as well as Google Play. Is your app on this list? If not, what are you doing to gain traction? If every app is a journey, you may need to get going.
Users in the top ten markets analyzed by data.ai spent just over 5 hours a day in their apps in 2022 (based on a weighted average). Somewhat surprisingly, this figure is up 9% from 2020 which was the onset of COVID.
The pandemic impacted consumer behavior in a myriad of ways, and many apps benefited from the lifestyle changes pandemic lockdowns wrought. And, these changes have endured as the world has slowly returned, at least somewhat, back to pre-pandemic norms and habits.
Time spent grew the fastest over four years in Saudi Arabia (68%), Australia (67%), and Singapore (62%).
According to data.ai’s App IQ Taxonomy, the top apps in terms of time spent were
As the world’s most populous country, China comes in at #1 with app downloads topping 111 billion. Far behind are India at 28.9 billion and the United States at 12.2 billion.
The United Nations estimates that China’s and India’s population are comparable, at 1.426 and 1.422 billion, respectively — which means that China’s population has adopted mobile to a far greater extent than India, whose downloads are only 26% of China’s.
Conversely, the US population is 4.29% of China’s but has 11% comparative app downloads.
Globally, consumer spend dropped in 2022 by -2% YoY. Taiwan (15%), Brazil (22%), Hong Kong (34%), and Mexico (17%) bucked this trend with increased spending.
Ad spending was up: $362 billion in 2022 compared to $336 billion the previous year.
According to Apptopia, the Ten Most Downloaded Apps in 2022 worldwide were*
TikTok has had a lock on the top spot for three years now. And CapCut, a video editing app from the same publisher, is in the top 10 for the second consecutive year.
The juggernaut that is Meta is responsible for three of the top 10 most downloaded apps: Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook. And while still in the top ten, Facebook downloads dropped by more than 25%.*
Three of the top ten apps are used for entertainment: two gaming apps and Spotify for music streaming. The argument can also be made that TikTok and Instagram have an element of entertainment to them. WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Telegram are communication apps, helping their users stay connected.
*Metrics for previous 30 days (Jan. 10 – Feb. 10, 2023)
1 and 3) FOX Sports Watch Live & FOX Bet Super 6
Coming in at #1 and #3 are two sports-related apps from FOX, confirming the enduring popularity of all things sports.
The first app appeals to cord-cutters who lost the ability to watch live sports when they canceled their cable subscription. Of course, these apps require a subscription for full access to everything on offer.
The second app offered a free-to-play contest to pick the winner of the Super Bowl matchup. As this is arguably the biggest sporting event in the US, this may be the reason for this app’s inclusion here.
An ecommerce app from China for fashion, cosmetics and more. Recently spent big on repeat ads aired during the Super Bowl. Launched in the US in September and steadily climbing the charts, with its low prices and cheap shipping reeling in gobs of new customers.
A free video-editing app with features galore, for all the content creators on TikTok and elsewhere, who have something to share with the world and simply must do it with video.
An addictive app for short videos — from the silly to the sublime — for educational, entertainment, and anything in between. One billion users and counting.
6) Police Scanner Radio
An app for listening to live radio feeds from police news and fire-fighters, for those who want up-to-the-minute intel on the latest crimes and conflagrations.
1) FOX Sports Watch live*
Chinese “fast fashion” women’s clothing company offering trendy styles at affordable prices. Although increasing awareness of this industry’s issues with worker treatment and environmental impacts may finally be affecting this industry’s growth.
5) YouTube TV
Another live TV streaming option for cord cutters. Offers 85 channels, a la carte options, and multiple streams. And it’s still cheaper than cable.
6) WhatsApp Messenger
Popular one-on-one or group messaging over the internet! (And the #1 messaging app downloaded via Google Play Store in the US.)
An open-source encryption protocol app that secures your online browsing via proxies. For those who want to keep Big Brother at bay.
An employee scheduling app used by restaurants, retail, and hospitality industries. These kinds of apps are a convenient tool for business managers handling shifts.
3) Broadcastify Pro
Another scanner app with access to the Broadcastify network of over 6,500 police, fire/EMS, aviation, rail, weather, marine and amateur radio streams.
4) 75 Hard
Billed as a 75-day transformational mental toughness program for “taking control of your life” and improving your confidence, grit, endurance, fortitude, self-esteem. It’s a workout — for your mind.
5) The Wonder Weeks
The companion app to the popular baby development book. For parents who want to be sure their child is meeting all growth milestones — or just need to know that they’re doing it right when it comes to raising their little cherub.
6) Procreate Pocket
A follow-up to the original Procreate digital art app, designed for iPads. Now, iPhone users can follow their creative muse anywhere, anytime.
An employee scheduling app used by restaurants, retail, and hospitality industries.
2) MX307 Digital Watch Face
3) Torque Pro
A real-time health app — for your car! Users monitor their vehicle’s engine sensors and performance and review and clear diagnostic trouble codes. Since your car can’t always tell you when it’s feeling under the weather.
4) MX313 Digital Watch Face
PSPlay lets users play any PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 game on their mobile device. For gamers on the go.
Three of the six apps here support Android-enabled smart watches that run on Wear OS “connecting you with your health, the people you care about, and the world around you.”
Many people perhaps got Android-based smart watches over the holidays, driving downloads of these apps.
In a word, mobile isn’t going anywhere — except up! Mobile usage and penetration are at an all-time high, proving that the world’s digital consumers and app developers continue to discover new, convenient, fun, and helpful things that they can do via an app.
Of course, this will continue to mean that most apps can expect to experience significant competition for consumer pocketbooks and attention spans. The key to success undoubtedly lies in data: gathering it, analyzing it, gaining insights from it, and then using it to better serve users with personalized messaging.
Every app on the lists above understands how to engage users and keep them coming back so often that it’s second nature to them. And that’s a great way to build up loyal users.
Another silver bullet lies in a deep understanding of the psychological forces which drive human behavior. Get all these things right and you’ll have a truly sticky app that users will be hooked on forever.
The Psychology of Insanely Addictive Apps