The latest App Annie report confirms the important part mobile technologies plays as nations continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. App usage, purchasing, and time spent using apps all shot up as the world turned to mobile to hold things together.

The big opportunity

This boom in attention and usage is prompting serious interest from venture capitalists. With every facet of business and personal life becoming digitized, there’s no shortage of ideas.

What are investors particularly interested in? AppAnnie claims VC money is particularly focused on solutions for financial services, transportation, commerce, and shopping — but there’s interest in every sector.

It’s important to get the big picture on investment trends: An astonishing 26% of total global VC funding is going into mobile-related ventures. In fact, $73 billion was poured into mobile last year.

The other strand to the business case here is attention and engagement. Mobile is the hub at home and at work. This is driving remarkable changes in how we spend our time. Americans now spend 8% more time on mobiledevices than they do watching TV, the report said.

This pattern is being repeated internationally. Consumers in Indonesia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Argentina, and South Korea spend over four hours a day on their mobile devices, and most other nations aren’t far behind.

What this means is that mobile has become the center of the attention economy. In the US, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X/ Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18%, and 30% more time YoY, respectively, in their most-used apps, the report explains.

And consumers spent $143 billion on or in apps in 2020, up 20% on the previous year.

How the enterprise is changing

Apple remains at the cutting edge of the new mobile economy. iOS 14 surged swiftly to higher adoption rates than previous generations of the operating system, which means advertisers must get serious about the move to limit app tracking. (There’s real money in play. Mobile ad placements grew 95% across the year, with interstitial ads seeing the biggest growth.)

With nations attempting to work from home and enterprises everywhere seeking digital solutions to enable B2C and B2B communications, the world saw a surge in the use of business apps. AppAnnie reports that the time spent in business apps grew 275% year over year in Q4 2020.

“As companies rework flexible and remote working options, usage of business collaboration apps is poised to remain high — placing greater demand on home data usage and speed, an area ripe for benefitting from 5G,” App Annie wrote.

While most reporting on the data focuses on the continued dominance of games, social, and video apps, there were several interesting insights about the impact of mobile and COVID-19 on work and communication: Communication apps such as Twitch and Discord, community-focused apps including Nextdoor, and payment appsin general have joined more traditional leaders in the space.

It appears consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect privacy, with highly secure messaging apps such as Signal picking up attention.

Industry transformation

Finance, investment, education, and keep-fit apps saw a boom. eBook revenues climbed 30%.

Use of finance apps such as digital wallets like Apple Pay, for financial services and loans, and for investments, all continue to grow. The report tells us that stock market activity on mobile climbed 55% globally with Robinhood, Cash App, TD Ameritrade, Yahoo Finance, and Webull Stocks were the top five investment apps.

The use of iOS within the enterprise is also visibly increasing, the report explains, raising HSBC’s efforts in mobile as an example of this. The bank is embracing Apple’s ecosystem as it works to deliver cutting-edge customer-facing mobile services.

Retail transformation intensified, too. Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target, and Instacart garnered a vast quantity of consumer attention last year, as the time spent in retail apps on mobile devices absolutely boomed. Food delivery services also saw use increase 105% year-on-year across most markets, which particularly benefitted UberEATS.

The biggest takeaway from the data must surely be that mobile has absolutely become critical across every part of life. As it becomes impossible to exist without access to these devices it seems inevitable we will eventually consider mobile access to be a form of human right, given that without it it becomes impossible to fully participate in our increasingly digital society.

At the same time, as digital becomes deeply woven across our world those companies that care to embrace the change have a huge opportunity. “There has never been a moment of such great potential as this one,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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