Welcome to another installment of our Pulse on Current App Trends report! In this report we’re reviewing breakout apps, including NFT marketplace apps and key trends in Q1 2021.
NTF Marketplace Apps Grow to Meet Digital Asset Trend
The popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has led to the rise of mobile apps that coordinate the buying and selling of these unique digital tokens. What’s an NFT exactly?
As mentioned above, NFT stands for “non-fungible token”. In economics, a fungible asset is something with units that can be interchanged - like money. For example, bitcoin is a fungible asset. If you trade one bitcoin for another, you’ll have exactly the same thing.
In contrast, NFTs are "one-of-a-kind" digital assets that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, and they have no tangible form of their own.
NFTs are like digital tokens that represent certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets. These assets can be anything from drawings to music, but the current excitement is around using NFTs to sell digital art.
While physical works of art such as paintings are valuable because they are one of a kind, digital files have traditionally been less valuable because they can be easily and endlessly duplicated. That’s where NFTs come in.
With NFTs, artwork can be "tokenized" to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold. And, just like with crypto-currency, NFTs create a record of who owns what is stored on a shared ledger known as the blockchain. These records cannot be forged because the ledger is maintained by thousands of computers around the world.
The Rise of NFT Marketplace Apps
Over the last few months, fintech apps dedicated to investment, trading and cryptocurrency have been on the rise. With more people than ever engaged in digital trading, it’s no surprise that NFT marketplace apps would be making a splash on mobile. In particular, apps that sell Ethereum, the main blockchain supporting NFTs, have leveraged the NFT trend to engage a new market of users.
One app that’s seen a radical rise in DAU this month is VeVe Collectibles by Ecomi. VeVe launched in October 2020 and is the largest NFT marketplace app to date. From mid-February through March, the app increased downloads over 5000%. It also increased daily active users a whopping 50,000%. VeVe has generated around $2.5 million in IAP revenue to date. Most of this revenue came in March.
Two other popular NFT marketplace apps include NFT Gallery (formerly known as OpenSea Gallery) and Nifty Gateway. Both apps saw their downloads and engagement more than double on mobile in March.
While these NFT apps are on the up and up, it should be noted that most NFT marketplaces are still desktop-only right now. The NFT marketplace apps in existence are tiny in comparison to most apps on your phone right now.
Most Downloaded Non-Gaming Apps
In March 2021, TikTok remained the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide with more than 58 million installs. China drove the largest amount of installs (11%). Closely following China was the United States driving 10% of installs.
Facebook was the second most installed non-gaming app with more than 56 million installs. The countries with the largest number of Facebook installs were India at 25%, followed by the United States at 8%.
Source: Sensor Tower
Most Downloaded Gaming Apps
Join Clash 3D from Supersonic Studios was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in March with 27.6 million installs. This represented a more than 3 times increase year-over-year from March 2020. India drove the most installs at 36.6% of total downloads. Brazil came in second at 7.6%.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run from King was the second most installed mobile game with almost 27 million installs. The United States drove the most installs at 25.7% followed by Brazil at 11.7%.
Source: Sensor Tower
In particular, the continued growth of Crash Bandicoot: On the Run highlights the ongoing trend of PC and console IP games successfully expanding into mobile. Crash Bandicoot was launched on March 25 and went on to generate 28 million downloads by the end of the month. This made it the fastest-growing Runner game in the Casual games genre. In fact, Crash Bandicoot reached 20 million downloads faster than other leading runner games. It grew 5 times faster than Temple Run 2 and 7 times faster than Talking Tom Gold Run.
Source: App Annie
This success represents a huge opportunity for publishers to confront rising user acquisition costs on mobile, help drive profitability, and extend IP to wider audiences in an increasingly cross-platform future in which the IDFA changes loom on the App Store. Crash Bandicoot’s growth is also another example of how big franchises that start out on PC and console can find success with mobile audiences.
Q1 2021 in Review
Overall in the first quarter of 2021, consumers spent $32 billion on in-app purchases, making Q1 2021 the biggest quarter yet. As succinctly put by App Annie: “The app market is getting bigger – and it's growing at a faster rate than ever before.”
The COVID19 pandemic accelerated this growth as stay-at-home orders forced consumers to seek out stimulation via gaming apps, video streaming and social platforms. As a result, the app market grew at unprecedented speed. Smartphone users spent around $9 billion more on apps and games in Q1 2021 than they did in Q1 2020. This represents a 40% increase year-over-year.
Source: App Annie
Last year’s effect on user behavior continues to ripple into 2021 mobile projections. Users spent an average 4 hours and 20 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2020. This represented a 20% increase from 2019. In fact, Americans alone spent 8% more time on mobile devices than watching live TV per day.
The drastic rise in mobile usage has affected mobile ad predictions. Marketers spent $240 billion on mobile ads in 2020. This figure is expected to rise to $290 billion in 2021, representing a two-year CAGR of 21%.
March 2021 saw the rise of NFT marketplace apps and breakout game apps like Crash Bandicoot: On the Run.
- The popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has led to the rise of mobile apps that coordinate the buying and selling of these unique digital tokens. NFT marketplace apps are still small but gaining steam. Apps to watch include VeVe Collectibles, NFT Gallery and Nifty Gateway.
- In March 2021, TikTok remained the most-downloaded non-gaming app. Facebook came in second.
- Join Clash 3D was the most-downloaded game app this month. Crash Bandicoot: On the Run was the second most-downloaded game app highlighting the ongoing trend of PC and console IP games successfully expanding into mobile.
- Q1 2021 broke records for consumer spending, driving $32 billion on in-app purchases. The drastic rise in mobile usage 2020 has affected mobile ad predictions. Marketers are expected to spend $290 billion on mobile ads in 2021, representing a two-year CAGR of 21%.