FOR better or for worse, they are our inseparable companions. Now new data shows that we have been leaning on mobiles phones at an unprecedented rate, with more than 200 billion hours spent in just one month on mobile apps worldwide.


It’s a record amount?

The data covering the second quarter of the year, when much of the world was in peak lockdown due to the pandemic, shows that we turned to our mobiles as a link to the society we were retreating from. Use of apps - the applications we download to our phones that range from games to entertainment to services such as news and weather - surged 40%, the highest ever recorded.



In April alone, mobile data and analytics platform App Annie, recorded the monthly all-time high of more than 200 billion hours spent in mobile apps globally, with the average user spending four hours and 20 minutes per day on their smartphones.


Big spenders?

Mobile phone users downloaded more than 35 billion new apps and splurged $27 billion in the second quarter - the largest ever spend in any quarter, with games, entertainment and photo/video apps the biggest categories by consumer spend.



The platform offers users the chance to share short mobile videos, with TikTok dance routines and pranks among the most popular, as well as comedy and lip-syncing clips, but it is controversial, with India banning the app, citing cybersecurity concerns, and Donald Trump also currently considering a ban for America.



TikTok was a key driver of the rise of the games, entertainment and photo/video category as it became the top grossing app on the iOS App Store globally in the second quarter and has now surpassed two billion all-time global downloads.



With the seismic shift to home working, the business category saw the largest overall download growth, with video conferencing apps surging by 115%. Health and fitness, shopping and medical apps all had big boosts too, of 30%, 25% and 20% respectively.



In the first week of April, weekly mobile game downloads broke records at over 1.2 billion, while weekly download levels remained at 1 billion on average throughout the quarter - up 20% year over year. Overall downloads in the quarter were 14 billion and stay-at-home consumers also set new quarterly records for consumer spend in mobile games, with $19 billion spent.


It’s such a huge shift in a relatively small space of time?

Comedian Ernie Wise made the first "public" mobile phone call in the UK back in 1985 in a Vodafone promotion, with the world's first ever SMS message sent in the UK in 1992. In the mid-1990s, UK phone ownership stood at just 16% of households; then Nokia sold 126 million phones in 2000.


Now, though?

With the rise of the iPhone and smartphones overall, the number of active mobile phones in the world is estimated to be more than 7 billion and the analysts at App Annie predict that despite lockdown easing across most of the world, the habit of downloading and relying on mobile apps is a surefire bet to continue.