India took the spot of the fastest growing app market in the world during 2020, according to Adjust, an app marketing analytics platform.
Education was the fastest-growing app category in India with a growth score of 60, followed by business apps (banking and payments) with a growth score of 58, according to the Mobile App Growth Report. India has 451 million mobile internet users, the report noted.
“It highlights how growth is actually accelerating,” says Shubham Jha, Sales Manager (India) at Adjust. “In India, the rise of education, business, and food and drink apps suggest that more people than ever are adopting mobile to complete an ever-widening array of tasks, and that brands are successfully capitalising on increasing mobile penetration in the country.”
Food and drink apps clocked a growth score of 52 in 2020. To calculate the growth score, Adjust takes the total installs per month and divides that number by monthly active users (Total installs / MAU) for each category and country in its dataset. “The more users who install in relation to the MAU, the higher the score,” the report stated.
In stark contrast to worldwide trends, e-commerce apps in India underperformed in 2020, possibly because of the lockdowns announced after the pandemic. Compared to a growth score of 44.95 in 2019, e-commerce apps were at 23 last year.
The growth score reveals the rate at which apps gain from installs versus their monthly active user base. Adjust, whose solutions include attribution and measurement, fraud prevention, cybersecurity, and automation tools, released the report in collaboration with social media giant Facebook.
Key insights on global gaming, entertainment and e-commerce industries
The Mobile App Growth Report also uncovered some of the fastest-growing markets across the globe and identified the key app verticals driving growth.
Despite 2020 being a tumultuous year, the report reveals that many app categories actually experienced growth, proving that mobile is incredibly shock-resistant as an industry. Categories, such as food and drink or travel, did experience an initial negative impact at the start of the pandemic, but rebound strongly over the summer months.
Gaming apps continued to win globally in 2020, topping the charts as the highest-ranking vertical by growth score. “This was in no small part due to innovative business models like hypercasual, instantly playable games that are designed to engage with simplistic, satisfied mechanics,” the report stated.
Another key insight is the potential of subscriptions for entertainment apps. According to research conducted by Adjust, using Apptopia data, some 79% of the top 225 apps in the Google Play Store and 49% of the top 225 apps in the App Store are subscription-based — despite making up less than 1% of apps overall.
When it comes to app portfolios, prioritize quality over quantity.
The report shines a light on more than just regional growth performance and delves into some of the key factors that drive installs and MAUs. “One of the biggest myths challenged by the mobile growth reports is that brands with more apps don’t necessarily grow faster,” Says Shubham of Adjust.
“While cross-promotion can be leveraged by gaming apps with large portfolios to ensure traffic, the growth scores for those gaming companies with many apps did not greatly exceed those with only a handful,” Shubham explains. For entertainment apps, a larger portfolio actually meant lower growth rates on average. For some companies, the best growth strategy is to focus on fulfilling the user experience with fewer apps.
Designing the right expansion strategy backed by data
The first Mobile App Growth Report by Adjust was published in 2019, and aimed at enabling mobile app marketers to extend their footprint and scale. By providing an anatomy of app growth across geographies and verticals, the latest report shows growth trends and shows app marketers distinct areas of highest potential growth.
While North America and EMEA still offer huge opportunities, the really big numbers are coming from South America and South Asia. “With this in mind, app developers can make more informed decisions about how and, more precisely, where they could invest to see the best returns,” Shubham says.
The huge growth in Southeast Asia and South America has demonstrated that apps with the right expansion strategy can still prosper and rapidly grow. On India being the fastest-growing region, Shubham says brands can leverage the report to get a measure of the huge opportunities due to the country’s vast market of existing customers and ever-increasing mobile penetration. “This is especially important since not all app verticals are growing at the same rate, with the growth of education and business apps outpacing the rest, and ecommerce apps growing the slowest.”
Shubham says 2021 looks optimistic for mobile app market growth, with investment bank Morgan Stanley predicting 20% increase in online advertising spends in the year.
“The growth of mobile in 2020 has hastened timelines for the transition to mobile-first for many brands,” he points out. “This means that while there will be challenges, there will also be new growth opportunities. And, app marketers must take note of it along the way.”