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How the Mobile App Industry is Recovering from the Effects of the Pandemic

Aug 9, 2021

As the pandemic continues to cause stops and starts for some businesses, there are strong indicators that the economy in general is starting to gradually recover, with some analysts estimating that globally, we’re headed for the most robust post-recession recovery in 80 years.

As certain markets and sectors such as restaurants and travel start seeing consistent upticks in business after reopening, the mobile app industry, too, continues to grow at a rapid pace, with consumer spending hitting a record $64.9 billion in the first half of 2021. 

Driven partly by how pandemic circumstances influenced behavior and changed daily routines, this acceleration in growth and user engagement is here to stay, including many of the apps categories that provided entertainment and made food delivery and remote work life easier during difficult times.

Mobile games

During the lockdown, a wider audience discovered mobile gaming—specifically, hyper-casual games. In fact, mobile games topped the list for the most global downloads in 2021, with in-app purchases serving as the main driver of consumer spending. Reports predict that mobile gaming apps will remain lucrative, even as other forms of entertainment, such as movie theaters and music venues, make their way back. 

Remote work and health apps

Despite some offices starting to reopen their doors to employees, many companies are still opting for a fully remote or hybrid work setting. This means that workers will continue to require strong connectivity on their mobile apps, making Zoom, Google Meet, and other virtual meeting apps as relevant today and into the future as they were during the lockdown.

Productivity apps and tools also grew globally, with VPN apps topping the charts. This rise may be attributed to a remote work environment and also a privacy-charged landscape, which is a hot topic following the buzz around Apple’s latest iOS 14.5 release. 

In addition, demand for medical and fitness apps remains high, with spending topping $673 million. Downloads for medical apps grew 75 percent year-over-year from pre-pandemic life, and tele-health apps continue to rank among the top categories for downloads amidst demand for mobile access to public health policies and pharmacies.

Finance/banking apps

The lockdowns also caused a surge of interest in the stock market—remember Game Stop and AMC? Business apps set new records for the amount of time people spent in the app—up 30 percent from pre-pandemic times—and investment apps for USD or cryptocurrency with Binance and Coinbase experienced exceptional growth. 

Food delivery apps

With the gradual reopening of all our favorite restaurants and bars, food delivery apps have experienced a dramatic uptick in growth. Apps like DoorDash, UberEats, and Amazon Fresh have continued to conveniently deliver meals, making people’s lives easier and more accessible to their favorite restaurants and fresh groceries. Yelp and OpenTable also experienced a rise in demand.

Social apps, travel, and dating

Apps that offered a combination of seamless messaging, streaming, and video experienced a surge of engagement, with TikTok taking the top position for the most downloads and highest in consumer spending. WhatsApp, Telegram, Tinder, Twitch, and YouTube also saw a rise in activity. 

Along with the desire to get out and socialize, dating apps like Tinder and Hinge experienced massive spikes. Although user engagement is up, in-app purchases are down, likely due to the economy and job loss. 

Continued recovery in the future

With many mobile app categories poised to continue this upward trajectory, apps that offer convenience and connection will continue to top the list for growth. 

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