The coronavirus pandemic has increased our shared time of use, and this is especially true on mobile devices. According to a new report by mobile data and analytics company App Annie, global consumers now spend an average of 4.2 hours a day using apps on our smartphones, an increase of 30% over just two years ago. In some markets, the average is even higher – more than five hours.
In the first quarter of 2021, daily time spent in applications exceeded four hours for the first time in the U.S., Turkey, Mexico and India, the report notes. Of these, India recorded the biggest jump as users there spent 80% more time on smartphone apps in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2019.
To put this in perspective in the U.S. market, Nielsen reported last year that consumers spend about 4 and a half hours watching live TV or time-shifting TV, but only 3 hours and 46 minutes using smartphone apps.
However, we should point out that the analysis of Nielsen and App Annie cannot necessarily be compared directly, as App Annie only measures time spent on Android devices – and many Americans use the iPhone. Meanwhile, Nielsen relies on panels to achieve representative sampling. Still, the broad moves here are that mobile apps seem to be a more popular means of entertainment than good American television watching entertainment.
The new report also notes that in three markets – Brazil, South Korea and Indonesia – average daily time spent in apps jumped to over five hours in the past quarter.
It can be difficult to determine which apps are triggering these changes because most downloaded apps usually stay the same quarter after quarter. The top charts are dominated by common names like TikTok, YouTube and Facebook, for example. That’s why App Annie is now tracking what it calls “breakthrough apps”, which are the ones that have recorded jumps in quarterly downloads in iOS and Android.
In Q1 2021, there was a sharp increase in secure messaging applications, Signal and Telegram in Western markets. For example, Signal was first set up in the UK, Germany and France, and fourth in the US as a “breakthrough app” for that quarter. The Telegram was No. 9 in the UK, No. 5 in France and No. 7 in the US
Investment and trading apps were also popular this quarter, with Coinbase’s crypto app ranking 6th in the U.S. and the UK on this list, while Binance was 7th in France. The Upbit crypto trading application, meanwhile, was the first in South Korea. The payment app, PayPay, was the first app in Japan. And Robinhood was number 2 in the US
Clubhouse also proved to be on the “breakthrough” charts, as it gained ground in non-American markets such as Germany and Japan, where it took 4th and 3rd place, respectively.
The Chinese breakthrough scale was different, with a focus on video apps like TikTok, Kwai, CapCut and iQIYI.
The impact of TikTok on games was also evident in the quarter. The game High Heels from Istanbul based in Rollic (now owned by Zynge) was advertised on TikTok, sending the title to 1st place in the American and British Games rankings, as well as 3rd place in China, no. 7 in Germany and No. 6 in Russia.
Other hyper-casual games have also performed well, including Project Makeover, DOP 2: Delete One Part and Phone Case DIY.
Crash Bandicoot: On the run he also broke out in the quarter. Despite launching on March 25, the game recorded 21 million downloads in four days, becoming the main breakthrough app in Germany, 2nd in the US, 3rd in the UK and 9th in France.