Filippo Satolli

Where is app economy going?

Life is turning mobile. Last researches, carried out by e-Marketer and, underline people spent more than 5 hours a day using their mobile devices: apps account more than 90% of people non-phone smartphone time. As a consequence app downloads and consumer spend grew over time. According to a report released by App Annie , they hit record levels during the first quarter of 2017: Google Play and iOS downloads touch almost 25 billion globally, while total consumer spend is now above $15 billion.

diagram worldwide app downloads

Google Play and iOS show different paths when dealing with downloads and consumer spend. As a matter of fact, Google Play is the leader in terms of downloads levels: in Q1 2017 recorded a boom in downloads, outperforming its rival and taking its global headship over iOS to 135%, driven by growth in emerging markets as India and Indonesia. During the same period iOS, on the other hand, recorded only a growth rate of about 5%.

But is when it comes to global consumer spend that iOS claims its leadership. iOS widened its supremacy over Google Play to 100%; China represents the greatest contributor to this growth. India follows. Despite being overplayed by its rival, Google Play recorded a notable growth in global consumer spend too: it grew 40% year over year thanks to increases in countries as Japan, US and South Korea.

As mentioned above, nowadays apps represent a vital part of people’s lives: there’s an app for almost everything, they are intuitive and simple to use and give consumers access to what they need, making their lives easier. Having Google Play and iOS showed this positive and stable growth, it is reasonable to believe app economy will continue to follow this route.

In fact, mobile app store global revenues are expected to reach $85 billion in 2020 since mobile users are forecasted to grow from 2.6 up to 3.6 billion. Things will go even better in 2021. App store annual revenues are reckoned to hit $139 billion , growing at an annualized growth rate of 18%, while global app store downloads to increase at 19% to get to 352 billion. Looking in details at revenues, iOS is believed to maintain its leadership over Google Play, hitting more than $60 billion, over 33% more compared to 2017. Google Play, on the other hand, will outperform once again iOS in terms of downloads reaching almost 200 billion by its own and 300 billion combined with third-party Android stores.

Chinese consumers remain the greatest contributors ever. App store annual revenues in China are predicted to reach almost $60 billion in 2021, tripling the 2017’s data and almost doubling US app store revenues forecasts relating to the same period. Moreover, Chinese app store download are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 19% reaching almost 129 billion.

Chinese purchasing power is higher than in other emerging markets, even if not so high as in other mature market as US, and Chinese consumers are inclined to spend a lot of time in gaming, which represents almost 76% of overall 2021 mobile app annual revenues.

These elements, combined together, explain the reason why China is expected to be the country which will drive the overall mobile apps growth.These statistics underline a clear message: apps are now the main technology allowing people to get access to their favorite services and products. Eachperson spend more than 4 hours per day on apps, using them to communicate, to buy, to travel, to meet other people, to share. There is an app for everything and the wide usage of this technology is supporting the incredible trend in the App Economy.

For all the above mentioned reasons all the brands and companies that want to create a direct contact with their clients, should carefully design their app, include analytic tools to measure performances and create a specific communication and marketing strategy. Having a website mobile responsive is not enough anymore when it comes to users’ needs and expectations. Only Apps are able to drive the innovation required to grow businesses and to transform each potential client in a loyal user.

Filippo Satolli

Technology enthusiast, Filippo Satolliis working in Mobile Digital Business for 15 years now. Graduated in Economics at Bocconi University, since the beginning of his career he has worked on innovative and international projects, particularly in USA and Latin America, where he lived for 5 years. Back in Italy, he became Co-Founder and COO at, worldwide mobile marketing platform for apps and games. As COO, Filippois responsible for the Italian market (Milan and Florence basedoffices) and for the company’s international expansion with the opening of new offices in Berlin (September 2015) and Beijing (January 2017).

Instal is a worldwide Mobile Marketing Platform designed for Apps and Games. The proprietary technology and performance model (CPI = Cost per Install) support advertisers to maximize results and to reach mobile business goals. Instal’s technology is designed to offer advertisers top-level services in terms of app promotion, users’ acquisition and retention combining performance with branding, engagement & innovation. For more information please visit


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