After a worrying drop in 2022, consumer spending on apps is back to record growth

After a slowdown in the app economy that saw consumer spending drop for the first time in 2022, things are starting to look up. According to a new report on in-app spend for the first half of 2023 from app intelligence provider, there is once again positive growth in mobile consumer spending. The company reports that global in-app spending has rebounded with 5.3% year-over-year growth so far this year, reaching a record $67.5 billion for the first half of 2023. Downloads are also increased by 3.2%.

This is good news for app developers, publishers and marketers who rely on revenue from the app ecosystem to sustain their businesses.

Image credits: now attributes last year’s decline to consumers “struggling with inflation,” which had created a “temporary kickback” in the long-term sustained growth of the mobile app market, as opposed to anything more endemic than the app ecosystem itself, such as global markets reaching a saturation point in terms of consumption, for example.

Last year, consumer spending fell a slight but worrying 2% to $167 billion. It was the first slowdown since the App Store’s launch and came a year after the app market posted 19% year-over-year growth in 2021.’s 2022 results were based on consumer spending in all app stores, including the third third-party Android app store in China, including paid app installs, in-app purchases, and subscriptions.

At the time, CEO Theodore Krantz noted how “macroeconomic factors” had “damped the growth of mobile spending.” However, it was unclear whether the decline was a short-term correction to the rapid growth following the Covid-19 pandemic or a sign that the market had peaked, today explains. The new analysis shows that it appears to be the former which, combined with other factors, including inflation, had tightened consumer wallets.

The positive growth in consumer spending actually kicked off in late 2022, as is typical during the holiday season when people buy new phones and tablets as gifts and have more free time to download, use and spend on mobile apps and games.

This growth continued in the first half of the year as consumers spent a record $67.5 billion on apps and downloaded 76.8 billion apps worldwide through the iOS App Store and Google Play. (This analysis doesn’t include third-party app stores as the full-year report does, we should add.)

Consumer spending increased 5.3% year-over-year during the first half of 2023 with 16% growth in apps, while spending on mobile games remains roughly flat, said. While the lack of growth in gaming might be a concern, the company believes growth will soon return to this segment of the market as positive growth was already seen in March and May 2023 after a previous low of -13% in May 2022 Current gaming growth rates look similar to early 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic, in fact.

iOS’s growth also outpaced Android’s, as consumer spending on the App Store increased 5.8% year-over-year in the first half of 2023, while Google Play grew 4.3%. That equates to $43.5 billion in consumer spending on iOS and $24 billion on Android. Additionally, iOS accounts for nearly 65% ​​of the total combined app store spend, and even more in non-game apps where it’s 71% of spend.

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TikTok, for example, is one of the top consumer shopping apps with 31% year-over-year growth. It also became the first app to surpass $2 billion in six months, with $2.1 billion in consumer spending this year so far, up from $1.7 billion in the first half of 2022. Other major non-gaming apps on iOS and Android they include Disney+, YouTube and Duolingo, at 33%, 29% and 48%, respectively. (However, YouTube doesn’t monetize through Google Play, note

Max (combined with HBO Max) also did well, with a 3% growth in consumer spending over the second half of last year and lifetime consumer spending of $3 billion.

More broadly, the top categories for consumer spending included games, entertainment and social on iOS and Google Play. Other categories that generated at least half a billion in consumer spending also included Productivity, Business, and News & Magazines, which saw strong growth of 32%, 27%, and 25%, respectively.

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Top markets for consumer spending so far this year have included the US, China and Japan on iOS and the US, Japan and South Korea for Google Play.

Another metric for the health of the app ecosystem is downloads of mobile apps and games. These have continued to post growth with 76.8 billion new installs this year so far, which would also be with the second half of 2022 and a 3.2% year-on-year increase.

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Thanks to Android’s traction in emerging markets like India, Brazil and Indonesia, Google Play accounts for more than 3x the number of downloads compared to iOS. Turkey, Russia and Indonesia, meanwhile, recorded the strongest growth since the second half of 2022.

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Download growth is fastest on iOS, however, as installs grew 10% year-over-year to over 18 billion, while Google Play installs grew 1.4% year-over-year to 58.7 billion . China, the US and Japan delivered the most iOS downloads, but in terms of growth, Brazil, China and the US were the top performers.

Games, Tools and Social were the largest categories by number of downloads, while Games, Productivity and Tools saw the largest growth in absolute downloads. Other top categories included Productivity, Books & Reference, and Health & Fitness, which grew 16%, 7%, and 5%, respectively, from the first half of 2022 to the first half of 2023. Travel and navigation app downloads also grew by 19%. since the first half of 2019, but this is outpaced by overall (non-gaming) app growth of 21%.

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The top apps for download globally on both app stores included TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, CapCut, Snapchat, Telegram, Messenger, WhatsApp Business and Spotify.

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The best games were Subway Surfers, Free Fire, Roblox, Candy Crush Saga, Ludo King, Block Blast Adventure Master, Attack Hole, FIFA Soccer, Gardenscapes and Going Balls.

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