EYE Views: Apps 2020

2019 has been a big year for mobile apps. In Q3 alone the sector saw a 20% year-on-year growth in consumer spend and a record $23 billion from iOS App Store and Google Play combined.

Apps are increasingly integrating into the consumer experience, while a company’s mobile performance is becoming the strongest indication of growth and sustainability.  Understanding what’s driving this growth is key to succeeding next year.

We asked some app experts on the direction of travel for the app economy in 2020.  Here’s what they said…


Adithya Venkatraman, Market Insights Manager, App Annie

In 2020, we forecast consumers will spend 674 billion hours in the Entertainment and Video Player and Editor categories worldwide on Android phones. This is up from an expected 558 billion hours in 2019. Established players like YouTube and Netflix accounted for the vast majority of time spent on Android phones, but newer entrants are eager to get a piece of this growing pie.

In the short term, we expect new streaming services to drive growth in downloads, usage and revenue as consumers trial these new services. Further, we expect new partnerships to emerge to form new subscription bundles. To stay competitive in this space, streaming services will need to identify which competitors are long-term threats versus which are simply burning through advertising budgets. We recommend publishers track retention rates, time spent and active users to gain deeper insight into whether your competitors’ services are catching on


James Harvey, EMEA CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

The recent App Attention Index Report highlights that financial apps are among the top three most critical digital services to consumers’ everyday lives, and unsurprisingly, the ones that cause the most frustration in UK consumers (39%) when performing poorly.

Most importantly, more than half (61%) of Brits now pick their bank based on its ability to perform transactions digitally and 57% say they would change their bank if its mobile app isn’t up to scratch.

What consumers really want are apps that make the banking process effortless, regardless of device and during peak transaction times. In such a critical industry with such huge implications for even small errors, there’s no room for failure.


Ashley Murdoch, CEO, Corethree

In 2020, the main drivers of downloads, usage and revenue will be functionality and relevance to the user. Corethree has seen this most recently working with the Transport for London Santander Cycles app which has just hit 1,000,000 app downloads since the app’s launch in 2015. This is a testament to the value the app provides to users through its ability to release codes enabling faster hiring, deliver real-time info on which docking stations nearby have available bikes and offer an integral cycle-route planner amongst other features.

Furthermore, real-time data insights, communicated via mobile apps, enable brands to map and develop features to influence the behaviour of their target audience. Knowing exactly where a customer is, knowing their personal preferences, and then being able to immediately communicate directly with them creates a powerful engagement channel that can lead to the best possible user experience and therefore increased use and revenue.


Cathal McGloin, CEO, ServisBOT

The addition of conversational AI capabilities to the mobile apps of business such as banks, insurance, healthcare providers, retailers, travel and legal service providers will drive adoption and make the mobile app an even more relevant channel, especially for secure interactions and transactions.

As businesses add conversational capabilities to their apps, via both voice and messaging, they can engage with customers using a chatbot in a more secure channel than public messenger channels.

Banking customers can request the status of their account within their mobile banking app, be authenticated, and use the chatbot to access their customer details through secure integration to the bank’s data systems. A good example of this is Bank of America using Erica within its mobile app. The 2019 Fiserv survey found that 51% of consumers, particularly younger people, reported seeing the benefits of voice-activated banking, an increase from 41% in the 2017 survey.

We can only see this increasing during 2020


Anatoly Sharifulin, CEO & Co-founder at AppFollow

Reputation Management has become such an important part of the mobile app business, it is integral to the app performance across stores and growth. With users having more options than ever, in 2020 it will be crucial for app developers and publishers to gain existing and potential customers’ trust rather than just focusing on how to optimize for a specific store’s algorithm.

It is time to have a hard look at your app ratings and reviews, take steps to fix users’ problems, improve your product, and stay consistent with responses. Giving great attention to reputation management will not only make users know that you are on their side and they can trust you, but it can also help to increase your app rating and drastically improve its visibility across the app stores. 


Paul Wright, MD for UK, France, ME, AppsFlyer

Apps this year will need to contend with the dual pressures of increasing cost per impressions (CPIs) and the reality that most app users don’t make in-app purchases. While current data might suggest in-app ads will be the dominant approach to boosting revenue – with downloads of gaming apps that rely primarily on in-app advertising surging 150% – we can expect the industry to pivot towards a hybrid model that aims to drive revenue through both in-app ads and purchases. Retargeting will also be key – generating additional revenue from existing paying users is crucial given the relatively low numbers of these users.

“Subscriptions will be another important source of revenue in 2020. While this is model is currently prominent within streaming, dating and health & fitness apps, the largest increase in subscription revenue this year will come from gaming, following the launch of Google Stadia and Apple Arcade.”