How the mobile app ecosystem has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 – TechCrunch

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the mobile app ecosystem, according to an annual retrospective released today by app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. At the start of the pandemic, a number of apps saw their usage increase rapidly, such as that focused on online shopping, entertainment, business and education, for example. While much of the world has since reopened, things haven’t quite returned to normal on the app stores. Some categories of apps are still seeing much higher download volume than pre-pandemic levels, while others have yet to fully recover, according to the new report.

Travel apps, understandably, have been hit hard by the pandemic, as countries have closed their borders to visitors and tourists and in-person events have been canceled. In addition, the rise of remote working has led to a decrease in the need for carpooling and other apps associated with commuting. Combined, the travel and navigation application categories have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with installations falling about 40% in April 2020 from 2019 totals.

Image credits: Sensor tower

It is clear that the travel category, as a whole, is still living and dying through the ups and downs of COVID. As things started to improve over the summer months, for example, travel apps started to see a return to growth. And at the height of summer travel in July 2021, travel apps had almost hit their 2019 average, Sensor Tower said. But as the Omicron variant emerged, travel apps saw those gains start to wane. In December 2021, travel apps were down 14% again from 2019 levels, while navigation apps were down 22%.

Other categories of apps have been less impacted by the daily battles against COVID outbreaks, and may instead represent trends that have changed over the long term. Business applications are a key example. Facilities in this category remain high as many companies have embraced full-time remote working – or at least delayed their plans to return to the office amid the Omicron wave. Overall in 2021, growth in business app downloads was even more than double pre-pandemic levels (+ 102%).

Image credits: Sensor tower

Medical applications, obviously, also saw increased use during the pandemic. (And if they’re a proxy for how effective the fight against COVID is, then things aren’t looking good!) The category has grown significantly from 2019 levels, with downloads growing 187% in December 2021, compared to the average month in 2019.

Other categories of applications continue to benefit from the growth induced by the pandemic, but to a lesser extent. The Games, Health & Fitness, and Education app categories are still up 39%, 31% and 19%, respectively, from their 2019 levels. Sports apps rebounded quickly as the leagues reopened in the world. second half of 2020 and grew 3% more modestly in 2021 compared to their 2019 levels.

The standardization of app downloads during the pandemic varied from country to country, the report also noted. North America recorded the fastest return to 2019 totals compared to other regions. Meanwhile, the impacts of the pandemic have lasted longer in Asian markets where gaming is still nearly 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels in Q4 2021 and travel app installations are still running low. down 25%.

In addition, some of the major US travel apps are above pre-pandemic levels, including those of airlines, vacation rentals, and travel agencies, although navigation and rideshare apps have remained. depressed. In European markets, growth is starting to return, but the best apps in each travel subcategory were still below their pre-pandemic totals, as were navigation and rideshare apps. (See below.)

Image credits: Sensor tower

Image credits: Sensor tower

Sensor Tower notes that its numbers do not include preinstalled apps from Apple and Google or third-party Android app stores outside of Google Play.

The company’s full report takes a look at other notable trends of 2021, including the shift from cryptocurrency to mobile in the past year, resulting in 35% year-over-year growth for the finance category by Q4 2021. In games, Garena Fire finally came out on top in terms of downloads, beating the best game of 2020, among us, and the winner of 2019, PUBG Mobile.

Of course, growing facilities are just one way of examining the impacts of the pandemic on the app economy. The increased use of apps overall has also helped push consumer spending on apps to new levels. In the third quarter of 2021, app stores posted record revenue of $ 28 billion from consumer spending and were on track to reach $ 133 billion for the full year.

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