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What have been the key mobile trends of 2020?

2020 is going to be chalked down as a year that we will be only too willing to put behind us. Global events have changed the world around us almost beyond recognition and we will all be looking to better times ahead. By and large, that is as true for businesses as it is on a personal level. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

mobile

The necessity to isolate and stay at home has sent people online in their millions. That’s good news for web-based businesses and services, but also for those who provide the infrastructure to make it happen. These days, that’s all about mobile, and those little handsets have proved more essential a lifeline than ever.

The analytics experts at App Annie have just published their 2020 appraisal of the industry. Let’s take a look at some of the key mobile trends they have identified.

Our phones run our lives

That might sound like some sort of dystopian vision, but it is becoming a solid, cold fact. Furthermore, it is not necessarily a bad thing. App Annie’s report describes mobile as the central nervous system of the IoT age. A decade or two ago, we were in the “remote control” age, where all our cutting edge tech could be controlled remotely – the net result being coffee tables strewn with different remotes for the TV, the stereo, the lights, the air conditioning and so on. Now, we can manage all our IoT devices from our mobile handsets.

The IoT is making our homes smarter and our lives easier. That’s become more relevant than ever this year. The seismic shift towards remote working means we spend more time in our homes today than ever, and we expect them to also serve as an effective workplace. More than 100 million IoT apps have been downloaded over the past year, and that number is on an upward trajectory.

More than 200 billion apps downloaded

100 million sounds like a big number, but it’s 0.05 percent of all the apps downloaded worldwide in the past year. 200 billion is a two followed by eleven zeros. To put that in context, it equates to 26 apps for each person on the planet. It’s a mind-boggling number, and it represents a year-on-year rise of six percent.

So on top of the 100 million IoT app downloads, what were the remaining 99.95 percent all about? The answer to that is indicative of one trend that has never changed since the first smartphone appeared in the 1990s. People mostly use their phones for playing games, and they have been doing so more in 2020 than ever before.

A watershed year for mobile gaming

25 percent of downloads and 75 percent of spending was devoted to mobile gaming. Those are impressive numbers, but as percentages, they do not represent any significant departure from previous years. What makes 2020 so important for mobile gaming is that these numbers have remained consistent despite the rapid growth in the overall number of downloads. The net result? Mobile is now the platform of choice for gaming. It hasn’t just overtaken PC and console, it is a larger market than both of them put together.

This comes in a year when we’ve all had more time to while away on mobile games than ever, including those of us who might not meet the archetypal “gamer” profile. Sectors like igaming are aimed squarely at the mature professional market, people who might, under happier circumstances, spend their leisure time in Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. What should stand out for industry professionals is that igaming generated six percent of spending on mobile games, despite gamers only dedicating one percent of overall gaming time to this genre. It is worth noting that in Canada, Game of Thrones Slots Casino managed to claim the number one spot in terms of ARPU.

This was the only igaming title to achieve a national top spot anywhere in the world, and we caught up with online and mobile casino expert Jacob Hays from CasinoBlox.ca to get his views on the phenomenon. Jacob said: “I am not surprised to see that the Game of Thrones slot is performing so well. We saw similar statistics in 2018 with Slotomania ranking #3 for best grossing games in the US and Canada. Just as with regular gaming, iGaming seems to gain traction on mobile.”

eCommerce going mobile

Gaming might be our most popular mobile pastime, but shopping comes a close second. A year ago, the trend was to use mobile ecommerce apps to do quick in-store price comparisons, but to leave the actual purchasing for the desktop.

In-store has been less of an option this year, and our online shopping habits have similarly morphed. Mobile shopping app downloads were up to five billion over the past year, and that will continue to rise as retailers hurriedly update their online service offerings to remain competitive and relevant in these changing times.

The present is mobile

The increasing importance of IoT, gaming and eCommerce represent core trends in mobile usage over the past year. But we could as easily have looked at streaming, personal finance and health apps. The key takeaway is that mobile technology is becoming essential to every part of our lives. The effect is enriching, but it also represents valuable commercial opportunities to agile businesses in what are otherwise dark commercial times.

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