Software Development Blogs

The Most Popular Mobile Apps of All Time

In July 2008, Apple released iPhone OS 2.0 and the launch of the first ever App Store. This event set the stage for third-party mobile app development and distribution, and as they say, the rest is history.

Fast forward a decade later and we have millions of apps to choose from on both Android and iOS platforms. However, with so much choice, it can be challenging to get noticed, downloaded, and used over an extended period of time.

In fact, 21% of smartphone users abandon an app after using it only once. However, this number actually shows progress as app abandonment rates have dropped by 4% over three years. From a business perspective, it’s still a cause for concern as approximately one in five users will never relaunch a mobile app after the first session.

When it comes to market share, Google Play Store dominates with 70% while Apple’s App Store has to settle for 30%. However, the App Store has the giant share when it comes to consumer spending at 66% while Google Play accounts for 34%.

When it comes to countries that spend the most on both iOS and Android apps, it can be broken down as follows:

  • USA
  • China
  • Japan

The most successful mobile apps cover a variety of niches from streaming to social media to gaming (which accounts for 31% of overall app downloads).

Top Mobile App Downloads of All Time

The most popular apps across the planet over the last eight years are as follows:

  1. Facebook (Facebook)
  2. Facebook Messenger (Facebook)
  3. YouTube (Google)
  4. Instagram (Facebook)
  5. WhatsApp Messenger (Facebook)
  6. Google Maps (Google)
  7. Snapchat (Snap)
  8. Skype (Microsoft)
  9. WeChat (Tencent)
  10. QQ (Tencent)

As you can see Facebook dominates the top five app downloads and this doesn’t include reinstalls or updates.

Top Grossing Mobile Apps of All Time

When it came to consumer spending, streaming services dominated the list:

  1. Netflix (Netflix)
  2. Spotify (Spotify)
  3. Pandora Radio (Pandora)
  4. Tinder (InterActiveCorp)
  5. Tencent Video (Tencent)
  6. Line (Line)
  7. iQiyi (Baidu)
  8. HBO Now (Time Warner)
  9. Kwai (OneSmile)
  10. QQ (Tencent)

The above reflects only the money generated at both Google and Apple from paid apps, in-app subscriptions, and in-app purchases. This means that the actual revenue generated in the app economy will be much more significant when you include third-party mobile stores, in-app advertising, and m-commerce.

Speaking of m-commerce, shopping apps have been growing steadily year-over-year across both app stores. This can be attributed to both traditional and online retailers migrating to apps to meet the demand of consumers.

This doesn’t signal the end of e-commerce. Instead, it means that businesses are catering to their customers on all available platforms.

Top Grossing Gaming Apps of All Time

The top ten mobile games of all time based on global consumer spend might not come as a surprise. We have all heard about or played most of these games, especially the mobile games coming in at number two and ten:

  1. Clash of Clans (Supercell)
  2. Candy Crush Saga (Activision Blizzard)
  3. Monster Strike (Mixi)
  4. Puzzle & Dragons (GungHo Online Entertainment)
  5. Honor of Kings (Tencent)
  6. Fantasy Westward Journey (NetEase)
  7. Game of War – Fire Age (MZ)
  8. Fate/Grand Order (Sony)
  9. Clash Royale (Supercell)
  10. Pokémon GO (Niantic)

According to the latest report by App Annie, the first quarter of 2018 was the strongest in app economy history. In fact, it shattered the previous record set in the fourth quarter of 2017.

At the same time, both Google Play and iOS saw a combined growth of more than 10% year-over-year to 27.5 billion while consumer spending rose by 22% year-over-year to $18.4 billion.

Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store had a combined offering of over 6.2 million apps at the end of the first quarter of 2018. Mobile games were the most downloaded apps across both app stores and according to App Annie, PUBG Mobile and Fortnite were the biggest winners.

In the long-term, as m-commerce becomes the norm and dominates this space, you can expect mobile shopping apps to break into the top ten (of the world’s most downloaded apps of all time).

As China and India begin to dominate app store revenue, you can also expect significant changes in the years to come.

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IT Storyteller and Copywriter
Andrew's current undertaking is big data analytics and AI as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with the focus on emerging technology and digital marketing.