The Global App Economy – What Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Developing a mobile app? Consider key trends and lessons learned as you create mobile apps to meet the needs of consumers across the globe.

Global app usage is on the upswing. Industry reports on everything from app usage to revenue provide appreneurs and developers with vital information about the app economy. However, it can be difficult to understand how mobile app trends will impact your app.

To better understand global trends, how they affect app monetization, engagement and other key metrics let’s look at a few interesting statistics. More importantly, I’ll share how app developers can adapt their strategy to incorporate these trends.


Global app downloads topped 175 billion

“Global app downloads topped 175 billion … in 2017, thanks to growth in emerging markets including China, India, Brazil and Russia, according to a new report from App Annie.” Now that’s a healthy increase, and there are a few reasons for this.

Today, many apps are free to use or try. More developers are finding the freemium model to be an attractive business opportunity. For consumers, apps are free to download. Alongside a rise in subscription models and post-download monetization options, this is great news for app publishers.


Photo: Freestocks.org, Pexels
Photo: Freestocks.org, YFS Magazine

Also app developers are designing leaner apps that take up less space. Previously, users had to manage device storage carefully. Cheaper cloud options leave a lot more space on devices for apps that would have previously taken up too much space.

Lessons learned

Users increasingly expect apps to be free. Developers should consider making apps that are free to download and monetize the in-app experience.

It’s also important to keep tabs on the size of your app. Software bloat can cause mobile devices to crash and slow down, creating a negative experience for users. Instead, users are looking for lean apps that help them to achieve tasks on-the-go. A positive user experience (UX) is important. Mobile app users want powerful apps that offer access key features they’d otherwise have to open their laptop to use.


Global consumer app spend to exceed $106 billion

Consumer spending exceeded $86 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, “Spending in global app stores will total $106.4 billion by the end of the year and $156.5 billion by 2022,” according to a report from App Annie.

Developers will be happy to note that monetization in top markets maintained steady growth — 70% and 35% in the US and UK respectively. But the real story is the scale of growth in developing markets. Growth remains strong thanks to the increase in smartphone adoption in developing countries. This presents an opportunity for publishers to capture more revenue from emerging markets.

Apple App Store continues to dominate Google Play. In the first half of 2018, a Sensor Tower study confirms, this accounted for  worldwide gross app revenue at $22.6 billion and $11.8 billion, respectively.


Photo: Pixabay, Pexels
Photo: Pixabay, YFS Magazine

Apple products continue to attract more paid users. “It’s perhaps no surprise, but recent reports indicate that on average iPhone apps make 75% more money than their Android counterparts, despite the Google Play market share being four times that of iOS.” This allows app developers to generate more revenue per user (which may still include subscriptions and freemium models).

Lessons learned

The moral of the story— the app economy is in a great place right now. Consumer app spending continues to rise. Publishers should look at their monetization strategy in developing markets to create new revenue streams.


Mobile users spend an estimated 1.5 months in apps annually

Users are spending more time in apps than ever before.

According to eMarketer, “US adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018.” Furthermore, “Apps account for over 90% of internet time on smartphones and 77% of internet time on tablets. But this is slightly misleading, in that nearly half of app time occurs in an individual’s top app, and 90% in the top five.”

Lessons learned

This presents an opportunity for developers to create more effective app engagement strategies. Experience should be at the forefront of every app strategy. In some ways engagement is more important than downloads. If you can’t compel users to engage with your app, you’ll churn users very quickly.

People delete apps that they rarely use. Increase app engagement and user retention with easy on-boarding, gamification, in-app customer support, new feature notifications via email, and relevant push notifications to name a few.


The mobile app economy is healthy and shows no signs of slowing down. Consider these trends and lessons learned as you develop in-demand apps to meet the needs of consumers across the globe.


James Ewen is a Marketing Manager at Tamoco, a proximity network, connecting precise location sensors with mobile devices around the world to help developers fine-tune their mobile app strategy, get more users and generate more revenue.


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