TikTok Remains the Most Downloaded App in Q1 2021, According to New Data


Despite various challenges, including a US Government push to ban the app entirely, the latest download stats from App Annie underline the enduring popularity of TikTok, which continues on its march to becoming the next billion-user social app.

App Anne Q1 2021 report

As you can see, TikTok remained the most downloaded app in Q1 2021, holding its growth momentum over the past two years. 

Of course, most people have already downloaded Facebook and Instagram, so download stats in themselves are not necessarily indicative of usage. Indeed, looking at the monthly active user stats on the right, you can see that Facebook is still dominant – but TikTok’s continued rise underlines its enduring popularity, and the resonance, and influence, it now holds with more and more users.

But maybe more interesting is App Annie’s ‘Breakout Apps’ chart, which shows the apps that saw the biggest growth in downloads, quarter over quarter.

App Annie breakout apps stats

The controversy over WhatsApp’s proposed data-sharing change back in January certainly had an impact, with both Signal and Telegram surging up the download charts, which underlines why WhatsApp eventually reversed course on its update. WhatsApp is still planning to implement the change, however, and it’ll be interesting to see if users respond as strongly when WhatsApp once again updates its process, which will see information around business interactions in the app shared with parent company Facebook.

The growth of MX Takatak is also significant. The Indian short-form video app has filled the gap left by TikTok’s ban in the nation, and has seen significant take-up among Indian users. The app hasn’t caught on outside of the nation as yet.

In addition to download and usage stats, App Annie has also shared new insights into app spending, which highlights the massive impact that the COVID-19 lockdowns have had on eCommerce and the digital shopping shift. 

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“Global spend on apps surged by 40% in a year, with $32 billion spent on in-app purchases across iOS and Google Play globally in Q1 2021. It’s the biggest quarter since records began – and the figure is 40% up on the same quarter for 2020.”

App Annie Q1 2021 report

That trend is expected to continue, with habits adopted during the global lockdowns likely to influence consumer behaviors moving forward. Indeed, many more people have now been introduced to the convenience of in-app shopping, which will change the way they purchase, even once physical stores re-open. This is likely to become the retail story of the next decade, with the pandemic accelerating the digital shift by years, according to estimates.

Worth noting, too, where TikTok stands in total consumer app spend (top table).

There are some key considerations here for digital marketers, outlining emerging trends in app usage and consumption that could have a big impact on outreach. And while many of the trending apps will decline again, and Facebook’s platforms will remain dominant, it’s worth considering the broader usage shifts, and what they might mean for your approach.  



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