The global pandemic has defined most aspects of 2020 and app downloads are no different. While global app downloads reached an all-time high of 37.8 billion between April and June, it was mostly communication, business, health, and education apps that were the biggest winners of the period, whilst travel, navigation, and sports apps struggled.
According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, the biggest winner overall in the US, Europe, and globally was video streaming platform Zoom, which became only the third app ever to reach 300 million installs in a quarter, joining the ranks of viral successes TikTok and Pokemon Go. The Facebook-owned Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger apps continued to be hugely popular throughout the quarter, but after years of dominating the top spots on both the Apple App Store and Google Play, Zoom and TikTok took the number one and two spots around the world for both iOS and Android users.
The global lockdown was also a boost for game downloads, with a wide variety of genres seeing significant upticks in the number of installs during the period ranging from slots to “battle royale” style games. Save The Girl generated a whopping 100 million downloads over the period to become the most popular game on both the App Store and Google Play, and pushed the total number of installs from developer Lion Studios over 250 million for the third consecutive quarter. Meanwhile, battle royale titles Garena Free Fire and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile ranked number two and three respectively.
These record-breaking download numbers also resulted in impressive double digit revenue growth for some game publishers. Gambling firms produced six of the top twenty games by revenue growth in the US and gambling apps surged to a staggering $1bn in revenues within a quarter for the first time. And these estimations don’t include users who sideload via a direct link to the app instead of downloading via the official app stores. Whilst gambling apps saw the strongest revenue growth, games with strong social elements, such as sandbox games like Roblox and battle royale titles like Fortnite also did well financially.
Whilst Zoom and Bytedance (TikTok) dominated the top of the individual app charts during lockdown, Google remains the top publisher around the world in terms of installs. Google Meet and Google Classroom saw strong growth over the last quarter, but in reality the search giant leads Facebook in install numbers by around a third thanks to the large number of apps it produces that people use on a daily basis around the world, such as YouTube, Google Maps, and Chrome.