The State of Mobile 2019

The State of Mobile 2019: Market Leaders, Monetization Trends, and Predictions

Andrew Zola
Andrew Zola on Linkedin

2018 was the biggest year yet for mobile. This is reflected in App Annie’s State of Mobile Report 2019 that sheds light on key insights and latest trends.

This makes a lot of sense because smartphones have been absorbed into (almost) every aspect of our lives (and transformed every industry imaginable). In fact, it’s now closely intertwined with our daily routines both personally and professionally.

Going forward, mobile will be the underlying force that drives businesses and societies forward. So what does App Annie, a leading provider of app analytics and market data, have to say about it? Let’s dive right into it!

Market Leaders

Last year, people around the world downloaded over 194 billion mobile apps. They also spent approximately $101 billion across app stores.

Between 2016 and 2018, the time spent in-apps grew by 50% and averaged three hours a day (in mature markets like North America). Mobile app downloads within the same period also rose by 35%.

In emerging markets like Indonesia, users spent over four hours a day using apps. The rise in time spent consuming mobile media can be attributed to cumulative micro-moments, banking apps, video streaming apps, social media platforms, news articles, and email (checked several times a day).

Finance app downloads exceeded 3.7 billion last year, up by a whopping 90% in 2016. Today, the average user checks their bank account via a mobile device almost every day.

Social and communication apps accounted for about 50% of the time spent in-apps (a 10% increase from 2016). Globally, over 720 billion hours were spent using social and communications apps (up by 30% over the last two years).

Mobile gaming is going through a period of widespread accelerated growth as users spend a significant amount of time playing games. In fact, mobile games grew faster than console, online, and PC games over past twelve months and are expected to grab 60% of the gaming market share (in-game spend) across all platforms this year.

Top Mobile Games of 2018 by Downloads:

  1. Helix Jump (Voodoo)
  2. Subway Surfers (Kiloo)
  3. PUBG Mobile (Tencent)
  4. Free Fire (SEA)
  5. Rise Up (Serkan Ozyilmaz)
  6. Love Balls (SuperTapx)
  7. Candy Crush Saga (Activision Blizzard)
  8. Happy Glass (AppLovin)
  9. Sniper 3D Assassin (TFG Co)
  10. Kick the Buddy (Playgendary)

According to Theodore Krantz, CEO of App Annie, “mobile is no longer an add-on channel—it is the engine fueling digital transformation.”

This explains the dramatic rise in time spent using food and drink apps. This can be attributed to the growth of food delivery services and fast food apps around the planet.

Mobile apps have essentially kicked open the doors of opportunity for the traditional food and drinks industry by blurring the lines between the physical and digital.

When it came to the popularity of food and drink apps around the world, France took the lead with 325% growth from 2016 to 2018. Australia came next with 300% growth, followed by South Korea at 230%.

Peer-to-peer shopping apps like eBay, MercadoLibre, and Shopee all together accounted for over a billion downloads.

Monetization Trends

Over the last year, people spent about $101 billion on mobile apps globally. To put into perspective, Danielle Levitas, EVP, Global Marketing & Insights at App Annie said, “...this is larger than the global live and recorded music industry, double the size of the global sneaker market, and nearly three times the size of the oral care industry. Mobile experiences are so central to how we live, work and play and with consumers spending three hours a day on mobile, it’s clear how vital this platform is for all businesses in 2019 and beyond.”

In 2018, over 80% of the technology IPOs on the NASDAQ and NYSE had a mobile focus. In fact, mobile was core to the product offering, a primary point of interaction with consumers, or a secondary presence.

Three of the largest IPO valuations with mobile as a core value proposition are as follows:

  1. Spotify ($29.5 billion),
  2. Pinduoduo ($24 billion)
  3. Tencent Music Entertainment ($21.3 billion)

Mobile devices have become non-negotiable with members of Generation Z. These individuals aged between 16 and 24 spent more time using apps than any other age group.

With so many people spending so much time online, mobile also attracted as much as 62% of overall global digital ad spend in 2018 (up by 12% from the previous year). 

Mobile gaming grew rapidly over 2018 and accounted for as much as 74% of consumer spending. Non-gaming apps, on the other hand, made up for just 26% of the total spend, up from 18% in 2016. This rise in non-gaming app spend can be directly attributed to the growth of in-app subscriptions.

The most lucrative non-gaming apps all included in-app subscriptions which added up to $19.38 billion (up from $11.9 billion in 2016).

In the Western Market, long established games like Candy Crush Saga, Pokémon Go, and HQ Trivia continued to maintain high usage rates (and this was mostly because of their social gaming features).

Top Mobile Games of 2018 by Revenue:

  1. Fate/Grand Order (Sony)
  2. Honor of Kings (Tencent)
  3. Monster Strike (Mixi)
  4. Candy Crush Saga (Activision Blizzard)
  5. Lineage M (NCSOFT)
  6. Fantasy Westward Journey (NetEase)
  7. Pokemon Go (Niantic)
  8. Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle (Bandai Namco)
  9. Clash of Clans (Supercell)
  10. Clash Royale (Supercell)

China’s freeze on game approvals had an impact on the industry, but this was lifted at the end of last year. Since then, there has been an upturn although at a slightly lower (year-on-year) growth rate.

Mobile app businesses headquartered in the US and China accounted for more than half of the total consumer spend within the leading 300 parent companies in 2018. However, China came out ahead with companies based in the region contributing to 32% of the total consumer spend, globally accounting for $19.6 billion.

The Top Five Companies for Global Consumer Spend in 2018:

  1. Tencent
  2. NetEase
  3. Activision Blizzard
  5. Netmarble

Unsurprisingly, all five are mobile gaming companies!


Global spend in mobile app stores is forecasted to grow 5x faster than the overall global economy and surpass $120 billion in sales this year. That’s double the size of the global box office market. So it’s safe to say that mobile is now a critical component of modern business.

However, a bulk of consumer spend in app stores will be driven by mobile gaming. China will also remain as the largest market for app stores, however experts predict a deceleration because of game licensing issues. 

Outside of gaming, in-app subscriptions will grow by 2x accounting for almost 25% of the total consumer spend.

Video streaming will also keep growing and 10 minutes of every hour spent consuming media across TV and the Internet this year will be attributed to mobile video streaming. At the same time, consumer spending on entertainment apps will grow by a staggering 460% (driven by in-app subscriptions in video streaming apps).

In 2019, we can also expect about 60% of mobile apps in the app store to start monetizing through in-app advertising. This means that marketing strategies and models will also change across the board to accommodate mobile.   

All these findings suggest that 2019 will be another massive year for mobile apps. So if you haven’t thought about developing one for your business, there’s no time like the present.

Get in touch with our experts to get a free quote now.