In order to craft a successful growth strategy, it’s key to understand the trends. With that in mind, welcome to another installment of our Pulse on Current App Trends in October 2021 report. Each month we round up the most important mobile happenings and growth data from the previous month to help you better grow your app. This month, our current app trends will cover the Facebook outage, the rise of new digital launch strategies in streaming apps and the latest ad tech mergers and acquisitions.

The Facebook Outage Boosts Rival Apps

Opening the month was the hotly-discussed Facebook outage. On October 4, a system outage occurred on Facebook-owned apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp and Oculus. The outage lasted for a little over 5 hours and had a far-reaching, global impact on advertising, messaging, live streaming and other digital services.

According to Sensor Tower, the outage resulted in a boost in time spent on rival social media platforms. Snapchat led the increased growth in time spent with a 23% boost week-over-week. This was followed by Twitter with an 11% increase in time spent and TikTok with a 2% boost.

For messaging apps, time spent grew by 18% for Telegram and 15% for Signal.

current app trends, Facebook outage

Source: Sensor Tower

Current App Trends of 2021: What Growth Marketers Can Learn From The Facebook Outage

It’s estimated Facebook lost $60 million in revenue from the outage. In contrast, it’s inestimable how much money was lost by brands that depend on Facebook’s products to market their brands. For brands that spend a large amount of their growth marketing budget on Facebook-owned and operated apps, if Facebook goes down, their ROAS goes down too. With that said, the Facebook outage is a reminder that you should be diversifying your ad spend across different social media channels, partners and networks.

HBO Max Uses a New Digital Launch Strategy to Grow

Sci-fi adventure movie, Dune, premiered on October 22 and contributed to a 13% surge in daily active users (DAUs) week-over-week on the HBO Max app. Experimenting with a multi-channel digital launch strategy, HBO Max released the film in theaters the same day it made it available to stream on its app.

current app trends, HBO Max


Source: Sensor Tower

Despite the seemingly counterintuitive nature of this launch strategy, the HBO Max app saw a spike in engagement; indicating consumers tuned into the film on the large screen and small screens as well. This fits the current data that 71% of streaming viewers in the U.S. say that, on average, they watch streaming videos on at least 2 devices each day.

Year-to-date, a primary current app trend of 2021 has been the rise of US subscription streaming app downloads. Driving 216 million downloads across the top 25 apps, subscription video on demand (SVOD) apps have seen a 29% increase in growth year-over-year.

current app trends, streaming apps

Source: Apptopia

Zooming out on the overall streaming vertical, while HBO Max saw gains this month, Netflix continues to dominate.

current app trends, SVOD apps

Source: Apptopia

Current App Trends of 2021: What Growth Marketers Can Learn From HBO Max’s Dune Premiere

With more people streaming media on mobile devices and the pandemic affecting in-person viewing experiences, any launch, whether of a product or service, should include a mobile-specific strategy to convert users.

Ad Tech Acquisitions and Highlights

This month, three notable mergers and acquisitions were announced in the mobile growth space, including the following:

  • Applovin to acquire MoPub (October 6)
  • Ironsource to acquire Tapjoy (October 14)
  • Ironsource to acquire Bidalgo (October 25)

Each acquisition aligns with the ongoing consolidation trend we’ve been seeing in ad tech; and, specifically, the horizontal and vertical integration strategies mobile players are using to shore up resources in the face of uncertainty and changing data privacy regulations. The result is the emergence of a new kind of super-network; that can provide apps with everything from monetization services to attribution, business intelligence, creative services, and much more.

This calls into question current terminology used to describe ad tech players. As noted by YouAppi CEO and Founder, Moshe Vaknin, “It will be interesting to see what new terms will be coined for the emerging, consolidated players of adtech as one-note names like ‘ad network’, ‘DSP’ and ‘SSP’ just don’t seem to fit anymore.”

Current App Trends of 2021: What Growth Marketers Can Learn From the Consolidation Trend

With the rise of fully integrated super-networks comes a new host of issues — most pressing of which is transparency. For marketers, it’s important to be aware that some of these new super-networks have vertically integrated to the point of competing with their own customers. While partnering with these diversified players could increase efficiency and scale, marketers should also be wary of partnering with self-attributing black boxes.

Current App Trends of 2021: Top Apps in October 2021

Most Downloaded Non-Gaming Apps

Goes without saying (but we’ll say it, anyways) — TikTok continues to be the most downloaded non-game app worldwide. In October 2021, the video sharing app drove 57 million downloads; a slight dip from the 59 million installs driven in September. The countries with the largest number of installs were China at 17%, and the US at 11%.

Instagram was the second most installed non-gaming app worldwide last month with more than 56 million installs. Leading growth was India at 39% of installs followed by Brazil at 6% of installs.

Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram were the next-most downloaded apps.

current app trends, top nongaming app

Source: Sensor Tower

Interestingly, in October — the same month in which the Facebook outage occurred—Telegram bumped Facebook-owned Messenger to round out the top five most installed non-gaming apps worldwide. As previously discussed, the Facebook outage led to an increase in time spent in rival apps. For rival messaging apps in particular, it also led to a boost in downloads.

As a result of WhatsApp’s outage, Telegram reached 6.3 million installs on October 4, up 530% from 1 million on the previous day.

current app trends, messaging apps

Source: Sensor Tower

Most Downloaded Non-Gaming Apps

Garena Free Fire from Garena was the most downloaded mobile game app worldwide last month. In October 2021, it drove 34 million installs, a 72% increase year-over-year. The countries that drove the most installs were India at 30% of total downloads and Brazil at more than 12%.

Candy Challenge 3D from Idil Morgul was the second most installed mobile game app worldwide last month with close to 19 million installs. The countries driving the most installs were the United States at 12.2% followed by Brazil at 9.3%. 

Roblox from Roblox Corporation, Cookie Carver from Azur, and Subway Surfers from Sybo Games rounded out the top five most installed mobile games worldwide for the month.

The global mobile games market generated 4.5 billion downloads across the App Store and Google Play in October 2021. This represents a 1.3% rise in global installs year-over-year. The top market for global game downloads was India, at 762.6 million installs, or 16.8% of total worldwide downloads. The U.S. game app market came in second for downloads at 8.6%, followed by Brazil at 8.3%.

current app trends, gaming apps

Source: Sensor Tower

Takeaways of the Current App Trends of October 2021

This month we covered the Facebook outage, the rise of new digital launch strategies in streaming apps and the latest ad tech mergers and acquisitions.

  • The Facebook outage on October 4 led to a boost in user time spent on rival social media apps. Snapchat saw the biggest increase with a 23% surge in time spent by users. The incident should serve as a reminder to growth marketers of the importance of diversifying your ad spend across different owned channels.
  • HBO Max released Dune on its app the same day it premiered in theaters. This resulted in a 13% boost in DAU. This reflects new digital launch strategies that prioritize mobile devices.
  • The consolidation trend continues in adtech. The emergence of a new type of super-network offers marketers more efficiency and scale while also prompting questions about transparency.
  • The most downloaded non-gaming app in October 2021 was TikTok. The most downloaded gaming app was Garena Free Fire.  


Need Help Acting on the Current App Trends of 2021?

Need support staying ahead of the current app trends of 2021? YouAppi can help your app cut through the noise to engage and re-engage users to act on your desired behavior. Contact us today to get started!