Global consumer spending on mobile apps hit $171 billion in 2023’s recently released State of Mobile 2024 Report paints a vibrant picture of the mobile landscape, marking a notable comeback after a temporary market slowdown in the previous year. The report discloses that global consumer spending on mobile apps in 2023 surged to an unprecedented $171 billion, showcasing a remarkable 3% year-over-year increase following a 2% dip in 2022.

At the core of this resurgence is the mobile app economy, which has now burgeoned into a half-a-trillion-dollar market. The daily spending frenzy in 2023 reached nearly $1.5 billion, encompassing both app store transactions and mobile ad spending. Impressively, mobile ad spend soared to $362 billion, marking an 8% year-over-year escalation.

The positive momentum wasn’t confined to revenue alone; downloads and user engagement also witnessed robust growth, hitting new all-time highs. With an impressive 5.1 trillion hours spent, a substantial 6% year-over-year increase, and a stable 257 billion downloads, up by 1% year-over-year, the mobile ecosystem showcased its enduring appeal.

Of particular significance is the rebound in app store spend, a noteworthy recovery from the unprecedented decline witnessed in 2022, predominantly fueled by the mobile gaming sector. As the mobile landscape looks promising in 2024, consumer expenditure on apps is anticipated to remain the primary driver of growth, a trend that seemed improbable merely a decade ago.

Apps, surpassing the gaming sector, played a pivotal role in this resurgence, propelling consumer spend to an impressive 11% year-over-year increase, reaching $64 billion. This figure is more than six times the total from 2016. Social apps and the creator economy played instrumental roles in introducing innovative monetization avenues beyond conventional advertising. TikTok, with its content creator “tipping” mechanism, exceeded $10 billion in lifetime spend, paving the way for new monetization strategies.

Looking forward to 2024, consumer monetization in social apps through In-App Purchases is poised for a remarkable 150% growth to $1.3 billion, intensifying competition in this space. The surge in consumer spend is not confined to a singular sector, as genres including Entertainment, Social Media, Health & Fitness, and Generative AI all witnessed rapid growth in the past year.

Generative AI, in particular, experienced explosive growth in 2023, expanding by sevenfold and spearheading the emergence of new sectors like AI Chatbots and Art Generators. This growth in AI also catalyzed embedded features across diverse mobile sectors, heralding a fresh wave of digital innovation. Notable Generative AI apps include ChatGPT, Ask AI, and Character AI.

The launch of ChatGPT, in particular, invigorated the AI Chatbot space, achieving instant success following its iOS debut in March 2023 and subsequent availability on Google Play in July. By late 2023, Generative AI apps collectively surpassed $10 million in monthly consumer spend.

Meanwhile, travel apps continued to set records, amassing over 3 billion downloads globally in 2023, a 13% surge from 2022, and easily outpacing the 2.2 billion downloads observed in 2019, pre-pandemic. This trend underscores the enduring significance of mobile in shaping and complementing consumers’ daily routines as they adapt to post-pandemic lifestyles.

Written by Sophie Blake


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