New Report Underlines the Growth of TikTok, eCommerce, and Other Key Mobile Trends



People are now spending more time in TikTok than they are in Facebook, while the average American is also now spending more time on their mobile device than they are watching TV.

That’s according to the latest State of Mobile report from mobile app intelligence agency App Annie, which provides an overview of the key mobile app trends and shifts over the past year.

The data is based on App Annie’s data tracking, which is not as reliable as official data posted by the companies themselves. But it is indicative enough to provide an overview of comparative performance in the market.

You can download the full, 54-page App Annie State of Mobile Report here, but here’s a look at some of the key notes and shifts.

First off, as you might expect, the average hours spent per day on mobile devices increased significantly in 2020, across all measured regions.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

That makes sense. Amid the COVID-19 lockdowns and mitigation efforts, people were seeking alternate forms of entertainment, and many looked to their mobile device to stay connected, informed and to spend some of that extra recreational time they found themselves with. 

But importantly, App Annie notes that time spent on mobile devices now actually surpasses time spent watching TV, on average.

The average American watched 3.7 hours of live TV a day, whereas they spent 4.0 hours on their mobile device in H2 2020.”

That, too, is not overly surprising, as trends have been leaning this way for some time. But in terms of marketing approach, it’s worth noting that TV is no longer the primary source of entertainment, with mobile facilitating more engaged time and usage.

In terms of social media apps specifically, App Annie’s data once again underlines the staggering growth of TikTok.

According to the report, people spent more time using TikTok than they did Facebook in 2020.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

Facebook, the company, still dominates the overall usage lists, with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp making up the remainder of the top five most-used apps, in terms of time spent. But TikTok’s growth is undeniable.

As per the report:

“TikTok’s average monthly time spent per user grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 70% in the US and 80% in the UK – surpassing Facebook. TikTok is on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021.”

Given the market dominance of Facebook, TikTok’s rise is particularly amazing to see. Facebook was eventually able to quell the growth of Snapchat (by replicating Stories), and has fended off various other competitors in the space. But TikTok has continued to go from strength to strength – despite bans, legal challenges, investigations, etc.

That meteoric growth is the key reason why both Facebook and Google (via YouTube) are working to replicate the app’s core functionality as best they can, however they can, within their own apps.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

App Annie’s report also looks at the rise in streaming, with video usage also seeing a big jump in 2020.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

The data shows that 40% more hours were streamed on mobile devices throughout the year, in comparison to 201. Which, again, makes sense, given the global lockdowns – but that increased consumption may lead to new habitual trends, and change the focus of ad dollars in the years ahead.

YouTube was the top video platform, with 6x higher time spent per user than it’s nearest video rival, in Netflix.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

Of course, that’s not a direct comparison, given the breadth of YouTube’s usage outside of just streaming video. But still, the figures underline the dominance of YouTube in the video space, and as the platform continues to expand its slate of on-demand movies and content, it will further strengthen its hold on audience attention in the space. 

App Annie also notes the rise in eCommerce, which could be a transformative shift for consumption habits.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

As various analysts have noted, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of eCommerce by years, bringing forward what was expected to be a more gradual shift in consumption habits. That will have major implications for retailers, because now that people are more accustomed to buying online, many won’t go back to their pre-COVID habits, even when they’re able.

And that could be of particular benefit for Instagram and Pinterest, according to App Annie’s data.

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

As you can see here, global downloads of Instagram and Pinterest worldwide “grew 50% and 20% YoY, respectively”. Both have significant opportunity to tap into the eCommerce shift – which also represents new potential for marketers to connect with these growing, engaged, and purchase-ready audiences.

In terms of overall social app usage, Facebook still clearly dominates:

App Annie State of Mobile Report 2021

But again, TikTok’s strength is significant, while Snapchat remains a key tool for connecting younger audiences.

Indeed, App Annie’s data shows that:

“In the US and UK, Gen Z had the highest affinity for Snapchat and Twitch, respectively.”

It may not be the cool new kid on the block anymore, and it may not have the overall usage numbers of Facebook’s apps. But Snapchat remains a key connector for younger audiences, while Twitch has continued to grow with the steady rise of gaming.

There’s a heap more data in the full App Annie report, including industry-specific app analysis and insight, providing a range of valuable and informative pointers for your 2021 strategy.

You can download the full App Annie State of Mobile 2021 report here.


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