Birthday Post 1: What Does the App Market Look Like? A Celebration in Numbers!

This summer marks MultiPie’s 5th birthday! To celebrate we’re eating cake… and writing a series of blog posts looking back over 5 years of the app industry. Post number 1: What does the app market look like? Here is a celebration in numbers!


Remember when smartphones fitted in your pocket? Welcome back to 2010. I’ve snuck back a little further than 5 years here, but it was mid 2010 when our app story started with the HTC Hero running the new Android operating system. The Android Market, later to become Google Play, was a mere two years old and boasted a catalogue of 250,000 apps, just over one tenth of the current number.


Google’s flagship phone of 2009-10 the HTC Hero

On March 22nd 2011 Amazon opened their own app store with 3,800 apps on their books. Shortly after this our first app Spectrum Puzzles joined the ranks. Since then Amazon have also seen a tenfold growth in app numbers.

And Apple? Of course by 2011 they’re in full swing as well, they’d secured 4% of the overall mobile phone market with their iPhone4. Their app store has been around since 2008 and in January 2011 held around 350,000 apps. That had increased to around 1.5 million by 2015, a smaller increase than Google Play; likely down to their higher development costs and stricter entry requirements.

Over the last 5 years the trend has been almost entirely upwards. In 2013 world smartphone sales surpassed the more basic feature or “dumb” phones. In the first quarter of 2016 global smartphone sales totalled 349million, in a year that’s over a billion, or, a new smartphone for one seventh of the entire world population.

Both Apple and Google also recently celebrated their 100 billionth download from their respective app stores… that’s 15 apps downloaded for every person on the planet, in a little over 5 years!

These days, on average, each app receives around 62,500 downloads, that’s more than twice the 2011 average, so even though there are ten times more apps available demand seems to be easily keeping up.

As apps become more sophisticated the amount of time we spend using them is also increasing, up 35% from 2014. We’re doing everything from the stereotypical gaming and chatting, to banking and buying groceries.

So where next? Emerging markets are a major driver of this trend. India and China are widely recognised as the next big players with huge increases in smartphone shipments. As mobile and Wi-Fi infrastructure continues to improve it’s expected that mobile use will continue to explode worldwide. For many of these new users, smartphones will provide their only access to the internet.

Mobile use is set to continue replacing traditional platforms and mobile apps still hold the top spot as our preferred way of interacting with our phones. App Annie states: “Users are increasingly turning to apps ahead of mobile browsers, and they are using these apps to make purchase decisions… This preference for apps (rather than the mobile web) is also having an impact on retail behavior. In 2016, Google stated that 50% of app users turn to apps to make purchase decisions, 45% used apps to look for product information, and 29% made a purchase (either online or offline) having used an app for research.”

It’s a good time to build apps! With an ever growing market, evolution of activities that can be achieved in apps and their continued preference over other platforms we’re excited for what the next 5 years will bring.

With thanks to App Annie and Wikipedia for the stats!