As we enter the second half of 2023, mobile apps continue to play a distinct role in consumers' lives. Studies show the average American checks their phone 262 times per day, which is about once every 5 and a half minutes. What are users checking so frequently? The answer is simple – nearly 90% of the time people are checking their mobile apps.

As we wrap up Q2 2023, it’s important to take a look at which apps have taken the world by a storm and the strategies behind their success. Understanding why certain apps have consumers hooked can help app marketers create high-performing retention strategies

Top Mobile Apps of 2023


As far as social media apps are concerned, Instagram remains one of the most popular of its kind. The number of Instagram users is expected to hit 1.35 billion worldwide in 2023, which accounts for a 5.47% annual increase from 2022. There are 1 billion monthly active users and of these scrollers, 71% are under the age of 35. 

Instagram 2023 Growth

Source: Oberlo

App Growth Secrets: Instagram

Instagram is popular for many reasons, but a few main selling points are the platform’s easy-to-use interface, unobtrusive ad formats and consistent new feature updates. 

An easy-to-use interface is crucial for a mobile app's success as it enhances user experience, creates positive first impressions, improves accessibility, increases efficiency and productivity, and gives an app a competitive edge in the market. When users can quickly and effortlessly navigate through an app, find the information they need, and perform tasks without confusion or frustration, they are more likely to use the app and recommend it. In fact, investing in a better UX design increases conversion rates by up to 200%. Positive user experiences drive higher retention rates and lead to increased app usage and success.

Instagram also makes sure that the ads they are presenting to their users aren’t intrusive to the overall user experience. Just like Facebook and Snapchat, ads on Instagram appear between posts as users scroll or watch stories. However, Instagram makes sure that ads only appear once a user has finished watching the content of a particular profile. Instagram users can also hide suggested pages in their feed to curate their experience. Making sure an app isn’t flooded with ads keeps users coming back versus being overwhelmed or uninterested. 

Lastly, Instagram makes sure to consistently introduce new and exciting features for their users to experiment with. Introducing new features helps maintain user interest and engagement over time. When users see that an app is regularly updated with fresh and innovative features, they are more likely to stay engaged. Regular updates provide users with new experiences, prevent app stagnation and reduce user churn. Feature updates also enhance overall user experience by addressing pain points, adding functionality, and introducing improvements based on user feedback. Listening to user needs and incorporating new features that align with their expectations significantly enhances user satisfaction and loyalty.


Duolingo has been a go-to app for language learning for many years. However, in the first quarter of 2023 alone Duolingo reported a 62% increase in daily active users (DAU) and a 42% increase in revenue growth. This language learning platform offers 98 different language courses in 38 languages and combines various methods of teaching styles to be a one-stop-shop for all those seeking help. Duolingo recognizes there are many people who wish to learn new languages, but might not have the means to do so. This is the driving mission behind this successful app.

App Growth Secrets: Duolingo

There are numerous factors that drive the success of Duolingo. Duolingo is easy-to-use and navigable, consists of concise, bite-size courses and can be used in many parts of the globe. There is one main driver, however, that has set this app apart from others – their use of gamification. 

Gamification is the process of applying game design principles and elements in non-game contexts to enhance user engagement and motivation. When applied to language learning apps like Duolingo, gamification can play a significant role in improving user experiences and increasing engagement. 

Gamification elements such as leaderboards, badges, levels, and challenges can motivate learners to engage more actively with the language learning app. By incorporating interactive and enjoyable features, learners are more likely to spend time using the app, which ultimately enhances their language learning progress. Duolingo, for example, leverages gamification strategies to set clear goals and provide learners with a sense of achievement as they progress. By breaking down language learning into smaller, achievable milestones, learners feel a sense of accomplishment and are motivated to continue learning.

Gamification elements can enable learners to track their progress visually. For example, a language learning app may use progress bars, point systems, or experience points to show learners how far they have come and how close they are to achieving their language learning goals. This tracking system helps learners stay motivated and encourages them to continue using the app. This strategy can introduce a competitive or collaborative element to language learning within an app, allowing learners to compete with others or collaborate with peers. Leaderboards and challenges create a sense of healthy competition among learners, foster engagement and a desire to improve. Collaboration features encourage students to interact and support each other in their language learning journey.


Bumble breaks down the uncomfortable dating barrier that women often face when it comes to relationship apps. This dating app allows women to be the ones to make the first move, rather than waiting for a male to reach out. However, Bumble goes beyond just dating by offering Bumble BFF to find new friends and Bumble Bizz to help users find career opportunities. This combination has brought Bumble great success with over 50 million active users in 2023 compared to the 45 million active users in 2023. 

App Growth Secrets: Bumble 

Besides being a safe space for women to date,find friends or networking opportunities, Bumble’s success can be attributed to their freemium business model. Freemium is a type of business model that offers basic features of a product or service to users at no cost and charges a premium for supplemental or advanced features. Bumble is free to use for all users but offers upgraded services at a small annual fee. 

By offering a free version, it’s easier for app developers to develop a large audience base. Users are more likely to try out a free app compared to a paid one, leading to increased downloads and higher visibility in the app store. Freemium models also provide opportunities for upselling and monetization. App developers can offer additional features, functionalities, or content through in-app purchases or subscription plans. Once users have experienced the value of your app through the free version, they may be more inclined to upgrade to a paid version or make in-app purchases to unlock premium content or advanced features.


It seems like the world can’t get enough of CTV and OTT in 2023. Streaming via the internet is slowly dominating the television landscape and apps are a perfect partner when it comes to watching shows on the go. Disney+ has seen consistent growth this year with 157.8 million subscribers globally as of June 2023. Disney+ is a streaming haven for all things Disney, Marvel, Pixar and more, which makes this platform popular for all ages.  

Disney+ Growth

Source: DemandSage

App Growth Secrets: Disney+

There are many reasons behind Disney+’s 2023 success but the main factor is its exclusivity. Disney is able to offer movies and television that other streaming providers cannot. They can leverage their hold on classic movies and win the hearts of older audiences or users with children that want them to experience similar viewing experiences. 

Leveraging exclusive content is a powerful tool for attracting new users to a platform. If the exclusive content is highly desirable and not available elsewhere, it generates buzz and create a sense of urgency for users to join your app. This increases downloads, user acquisition, and overall platform growth. Platform exclusivity also helps apps stand out from competitors and differentiate in the crowded OTT market. Exclusive content gives users a compelling reason to choose an app over similar offerings on different platforms. It can be a unique selling point that attracts new users and retains existing ones.

While platform exclusivity has its benefits, it's important to consider potential downsides as well. Exclusive content may limit your reach to users on other platforms and can create fragmentation in user experiences. This is why Disney+ is cheaper than other streaming platforms such as Netflix or HBO.

Takeaways for Top Mobile Apps for H1 2023

As we wrap up Q2 2023, here’s a look back at the apps that have taken the world by a storm. Understanding why certain apps have consumers hooked can guide app marketers’ approach to crafting successful retention strategies

  • Instagram: This social media platform is popular for many reasons, but a few main selling points are the platform’s easy-to-use interface, frictionless ad formats and consistent new feature updates. 
  • Duolingo: Duolingo is easy to navigate, consists of concise, bite-size courses and can be used in many parts of the globe. There is one main driver, however, that has set this app apart from others – its use of gamification. 
  • Bumble: Bumble’s success can be attributed to its freemium business model. Bumble is free toall users but offers upgraded services at a small yearly fee. 
  • Disney+: There are many reasons behind Disney+’s 2023 success but the main factor is its exclusivity. They can leverage their rights to classic movies and win the hearts of older audiences or users with children that want them to experience similar viewing experiences.