By 2021, the global app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion in 2016, working out to be more than $1,000 per mobile user per year on average, according to App Annie.
This will be a result of more time spent in apps and growing smartphone penetration in developing regions, as “robust” in-app advertising and mobile commerce spend become “core parts of daily mobile life”, the report said.
What’s more, during that same time, the user base will almost double from 3.4 billion people using apps to 6.3 billion, while time spent in apps will grow to 3.5 trillion hours, up from 1.6 trillion in 2016.
The study observed that the actual impact of apps could go beyond the $6.3 trillion figure, because businesses can also benefit without directly monetising from apps.
For example, growth in usage of retail banking apps is driving down costs for institutions like Bank of America and Barclays, by reducing customer visits to branches.
Mobile commerce was described as “the single largest driver of the growth of the mobile and app economy”.
App Annie projected that mobile commerce per user globally will increase from $344 to $946 by 2021, with Chinese consumers nearly three times as likely to buy food and groceries via their devices than US users, twice as likely to transfer money using apps, and four times more likely to spend a majority of disposable income on mobile.
Meanwhile, the growth of combined annual spend per user across app stores, in-app ads and mobile commerce from $379 to $1,008 will be driven by innovation and the transition from physical transactions to mobile. One example of this is Alibaba, which said mobile accounted for 79 per cent of the total transaction value generated in its China retail marketplaces in fiscal year 2016.
As for categories, games is expected to grow from $50 billion in 2016 to $105 billion in 2021, while non-game app spend is projected to triple from $11.5 billion in 2016 to over $34 billion in 2021.
Earlier this month, BIS Research predicted the global mobile gaming market will generate $58.71 billion in revenue by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.4 per cent.
Global in-app advertising spend is set to nearly triple from $72 billion in 2016 to $201 billion in 2021.