The 2020 recap. Major breakthroughs, failures, and trends in the mobile industry
It seems we’ll forever remember 2020, the year that humans will say goodbye to, wondering what all that was about. Well, let’s leave the universal scale for our cozy sandbox of the mobile world and analyze how this year has affected the industry, consider the major ups and downs, and, of course, share some trends and local phenomena. Feel free to read this article and share it with your coworkers.
Major apps that shot in 2020
TikTok could win the Newsmaker of the Year. The app is a scandal. It stormed to the top at the very beginning of 2020 and never left it. Throughout the year, everyone was enjoying a series called Adventures of TikTok in the US that had it all: data privacy breaches, suspicions of espionage, and lawsuits. After the presidential election, things got less heated, but still we are clearly in for a second season next year.
Zoom had a fairy-tale success and effortlessly reclaimed its place in the sun in early March as the whole world went online. It didn’t just make it to the top around the globe, but it became integrated into our lives right on the spot. The app jumped to №18 in the UK, №27 in Russia, №36 in Brazil, and №51 in China. The pandemic proved to be the best traffic generator. Even the data leak scandals didn’t manage to affect Zoom’s ranking.
Among Us is the motivation and dissonance of the year. How can an app strive for success for several years and finally make it in 2020? We have an article about it, you can read it here. The game became popular a little earlier in some places, and later in others. But, by the fall, it joined the top apps of every country. The funny thing is that Among Us is still there. Their story is an amazing mix of inspiration (a tiny indie project that became that famous!) and outrage (why didn’t they promote the app?)
If there were a Hype of the Year award, it would go to Reface. How quickly the wave of virality took it to the top in app stores is astounding. The app made it to the top 10 in July in countries like the UK, Australia, and Russia, and in August in countries like the US, Brazil, and South Africa. At the same time, back in June, it was among the top 200 and 500 apps in most countries. Usually, it’s more challenging for viral apps to retain users than to acquire them. We’re going to keep an eye on how Reface is developing.
The mobile world’s major battle: Apple and Epic
Apple’s battle with Epic is probably the largest battle the mobile world has ever had. On August 13, Epic intentionally changed Fortnite to bypass the App Store payment system. App Store, in turn, banned the game, which resulted in a protracted legal war. Dissatisfaction with the store has long been there among app developers and business owners. But it seems that blocking Fortnite was the final straw, and then the Coalition for App Fairness was born. However, the revolution failed as Apple managed to beat everyone. The company made some concessions and reduced the App Store fee to 15%, but only for app developers with yearly revenue of less than $1 million. The trick is that 2% of apps that won’t be affected by the innovation pay 95% of all fees.
Top trends in app stores
Video calls, ‘traditional’ social media, and streaming platforms
Video calling apps getting popular is an obvious trend in the year of lockdowns and isolation. Apart from Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams have been quite successful this year. A lot of similar apps started to appear. In general, self-isolation spawned yet another wave of ‘traditional’ social media based on common interests. For example, there are apps now to socialize young moms (Pumpspotting, Peanut), professionals from different fields (Fishbowl, Lunchclub), freelance travelers (Homeis), millennials (Friended), and Generation Z (Pickle).
Video streaming services are another trend. What can people do at home while the coronavirus pandemic is raging outside? Watch soap operas, of course. In the US, Quibi (April), Netflix, HBO (May), Pluto TV (June), Peacock TV (July), and Hulu (November) were a blast of success. According to App Annie, people have been using video streaming services 85% more often this year. News apps came under scrutiny as well. In the US, Smart News, News Break and Apple’s COVID-19 were a breakthrough. In the UK, the same applied to Sky News and BBC News. In Mexico, Azteca Conecta, HSBC and in Australia, ABC became popular too.
COVID contact tracing, delivery services, and widgets
Developing apps that track contacts to prevent the coronavirus spread is one of the most controversial trends of the year. Countries have taken different paths in dealing with personal data. How should sensitive information be stored and shared? Can a virus prevention tool become that of control? Are corporate giants like Apple and Google entitled to dictate their terms to countries? We did an in-depth review for that.
In the end of September on App Store, there was a significant boost in attention to widgets and apps with quotes. And all that thanks to the iOS update. Against this backdrop, Pinterest’s ranking grew, jumping to the top 10 from the 40th place as people started installing it for visual inspiration.
The final trend is related to the growing popularity of food delivery and shopping apps. Delivery services became heroes online just like couriers did offline. For example, in the US, Walmart Grocery Shopping, DoodDash, Instacart, Amazon Shopping, and Shop led the way. In the UK, Wish, Wetherspoon, Greene King, and Uber Eats enjoyed some attention. In Mexico, that was Mercado Libre. In Australia, Woolworths. In Russia, Yandex Go, and Delivery Club.
Local mobile industry phenomena
🇺🇸 US. Scanning apps among the top became phenomenal at the end of May. They tracked the police whereabouts. Their popularity was linked to the protests after George Floyd had been murdered and the BLM movement had started to unfold. Another local American phenomenon is the app called Parler. It stormed into the top in November against the backdrop of the presidential election. Unlike social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, which control the spread of disinformation, the content on Parler was not moderated in any way. That is why many people called it a bastion of free speech. However, there are some people who say otherwise.
🇬🇧 UK. In April, the game Border Patrol joined the top. In it, you play as a border guard and prevent suspicious people from crossing the border. The game is clearly therapeutic and is based on the principle “If you can’t beat the travel ban, lead it!” In November, I’m A Celebrity… was at the top of the list. It has a hybrid format of a show, a TV series, and a game in which you choose how events are going to unfold.
🇷🇺 Russia. Throughout January and February, Getcontact, which helps you detect spam and block unwanted calls, was among the top. According to surveys, 83% of Russians receive at least one spam call a week. So the app getting famous was natural. In July, Spotify came to Russia. Since then, the service has stayed among the top 5 apps in its category.
🇲🇽 Mexico. In February, Life360: Find Family & Friends, which helps you track the location of your loved ones, enjoyed a new round of popularity. And in March, Loteria Online made it to the top 5, holding the very top place until mid-April.
Major ASO events
- On App Store, the main changes were related to the new iOS 14. One of the major ones is the auto correction of search queries. Because of it, many keywords became irrelevant. An opportunity to create promo codes for subscriptions was a major change too. And, more recently, App Store updated the form for requesting a feed. There are new fields for more details about the team, and no more details of apps should be submitted several weeks in advance. Prior to that, the store had announced a ban on using weapons in banners to get featured.
- Google Play stopped blocking apps with bugs right away — now the store gives you 7 days to fix the issue. The store now has a rating filter and the Family category is gone. It has been replaced by the children’s section. We also got a new native window to rate apps. Among the recent innovations of Google Play is the ban on prices and emoji in the app title.
- Checkaso has contributed to the development of ASO this year too. For example, we released more than 10 tools, including a unique Performance section, and developed an index system. We’re celebrating the company’s birthday right before the New Year — just in time to sum everything up. Click here to check out our infographics.
We wish you rapid growth in the coming year. We’re happy to help you with this by providing accurate data and insights. We hope you’ll make it to the top soon. See you in 2021!