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Smartphone owners downloaded a record-high 38.7 billion apps in the third quarter of 2022, according to mobile intelligence firm Data.ai, while spending cooled a bit. In-app purchases totaled $32.4 billion last quarter, down from the all-time high of $34 billion a year ago.

But that’s still up 40%, Data.ai says, from pre-pandemic levels.

Instagram beat out TikTok to snatch the title of most-downloaded-app, while the-company-formerly-known-as-Facebook captured four of the top six spots and five of the top ten. But TikTok’s new-found strength is its ability to monetize users, and that helped it lead the way in consumer in-app spend.

  1. Instagram
  2. TikTok
  3. Facebook
  4. WhatsApp Messenger
  5. Snapchat
  6. Facebook Messenger
  7. Telegram
  8. Meesho (a shopping app)
  9. CopCut (a video editor)
  10. WhatsApp Business

App installs, curiously, didn’t slow from pandemic highs, trending 8% higher than Q3 2021. That was driven primarily by growth on Android as consumers downloaded apps 30 billion times from Google Play, versus just under nine billion on the iOS App Store.

The key driver?

Emerging markets.

“On Google Play, India and Brazil were the two largest markets by downloads. In terms of quarter-over-quarter growth, India, Pakistan, and Iraq were the biggest drivers of change from Q2 2022,” the company said in a statement. “Turning to iOS, China and the US were unsurprisingly the two largest markets by volume. They also, along with Brazil, registered the greatest percentage rise in the three month period.”

As usual, most app downloads happened in the various games categories, while utilities and entertainment apps were also big. Interestingly, the events and parenting categories also saw significant growth.


We’re downloading more than a billion game apps every week, Data.ai says, and gaming accounts for about 60% of total global in-app spend, at about $1.54 billion each week. That’s a slight dip from last year — a pandemic year — but up 25% from pre-pandemic times in 2019.

The top game by downloads was — believe it or not — the decade-old Subway Surfers, followed by the much younger Stumble Guys, and then Free Fire, Ludo King, and the also-venerable Candy Crush Saga.

Consumer spend, however, was highest in Honor of Kings, and Roblox led the way for the highest number of monthly active users.

“Back in 2014, reports emerged saying something remarkable about the video game industry: it was outgrossing movies and music combined. For those entrenched industries, this was astonishing news,” Data.ai said in a statement. “Now, we can see the impact that app-based gaming has made. Earlier this year, data.ai published research which projected that the global gaming industry would generate $222 billion worldwide — with mobile gaming accounting for 60% of the total.”

Interestingly, there’s a platform divide on games.

Nearly half of Google Play’s 30 billion downloads are games, while games make up just about a quarter of the iOS App Stores downloads. Accordingly, gaming represents about two-thirds of Google Play’s $11.4 billion income of the quarter, but just over half of the App Store’s $21 billion.

Which reveals yet another truism of the mobile economy: iOS apps, while in the minority, monetize significantly better than Android apps.


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