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According to a new Mobile App Trends 2021 report from app analytics firm Adjust, the first quarter of 2021 continues to see strong mobile app download growth and usage rates. App installs are up 31% year-over-year (YoY) in the first quarter of 2021, while sessions, a measure of user engagement, increased by 4.5% over 2020.

“The app economy experienced immense growth in 2020, as people all over the world realized the benefits of mobile in many aspects of their daily lives,” Paul Müller, Adjust’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “For mobile marketers, the potential to reach new users is at an all-time high, but so is competition.”

The report is based on analysis of 2,000 apps that Adjust tracks across gaming, e-commerce, and fintech. The company analyzes long term trends around installs, sessions, time spent in-app, retention and re-attribution rates globally.

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More key takeaways from the report

Global spending on mobile apps was $112 billion in 2020 with Apple’s iOS representing 65% of that spend.

Driven by stock trading apps such as Robinhood, Acorns and Gatsby, fintech apps experienced the greatest YoY install growth of 12% of all verticals compared to 2020 averages. Fintech app sessions increased 35% through the first quarter. The average fintech user has 2.5 apps installed with global payments reaching $1.4 billion in 2020. Payments are projected to reach $1.7 billion in 2021. The countries with the strongest fintech app installs are China (81%), India (38%), Japan (25%) and Italy (21%). France and Germany are at 20%.

Even though fintech experienced more download growth, gaming, with 33% of all mobile downloads and $165 billion in revenue, is still the biggest mobile app vertical. At $41 billion Asia makes up the largest gaming market. Installs of hyper-casual games, those that are easy to play and usually free, increased 43% compared to 26% for non-hyper casual games. Sessions for these games, however, are down 21% over 2020’s averages.

After a fairly anemic install growth rate of just 6% in 2020, e-commerce’s install growth for both installs and sessions were up 11% and 14%, respectively over their 2020 averages. Penetration rates for e-commerce apps are predicted to hit 51% in 2021. By year’s end, 17% of all global purchases will happen online.