Smartphones and mobile apps have evolved into one of the best vehicles for people to engage, interact and communicate with each other and brands. As much as they make the world feel smaller and more connected, there are still plenty of differences amongst cultures, countries, and continents in how people are using apps. Using insights from mobile app data platform App Annie, we researched 25 countries to see how people are using mobile apps around the world and find out which apps are the most popular.
Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a global phenomenon for a reason, because they connect people. Of the 25 countries, social apps are the most popular in eight of them—that’s nearly one third of the countries with high usage of networking on social media. The United States has the most social media apps in the top five, with Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. Other popular apps in America are YouTube and Messenger, which highlight how much Americans like to record and share their interests with others.
Ten countries, mostly in Europe, like to be inspired and amused on their phones as demonstrated by the popularity of music & entertainment and gaming apps. Russia and Sweden use apps mostly for business and finance, whereas South Africa and India use apps primarily for communication. Singapore, interestingly, uses apps most for travel or transportation (either ride or bike sharing apps). In 2016, Singapore dropped from 38th to 45th most congested country, which might explain why Singaporeans enjoy using their mobile phones to stay mobile.
Europe is home to a high number of gamers, particularly in Iceland. Icelanders are logging more time with Dunk Line (a basketball game), Keeper!, and Fight List 2. Apparently when the sun only shines for five hours in midwinter, you need something to pass the time. Case in point: another top app in Iceland is Storytel, an audiobook platform.
While communication apps are popular in all 25 countries, South Africa is the most connected, logging in three of the five most popular apps in the category with WhatsApp, Truecaller (a caller ID app), and Messenger. Eleven countries have a communication app as the most popular, and of those 11, eight are WhatsApp. In fact, WhatsApp is so popular, that it is present on 17 countries’ lists, proving that staying in touch with people is important wherever you are.
Germany is apparently Lovin’ It as its two most popular apps are the McDonald’s company app and their coupon app. They are unique in that they are the only country that features two food and drink apps in the top five, both from the same restaurant. Costa Rica also boasts a food and drink app as a popular choice, but Uber Eats will deliver burgers from more than one type of restaurant.
Shopping and finance/banking apps are each represented seven times across the most popular apps. Sweden holds three spots for finance or business apps, with Russia and the Netherlands claiming two spots for financial apps. Shopping is more spread out, from Europe (Italy, Spain, and Sweden) to North and Central America (Canada, Costa Rica) to the Middle East (Israel, United Arab Emirates).
Insights like these help us understand how different cultures around the globe use technology so we can connect with them and tell our story. Understanding what they value enables us to adapt and build stronger relationships. This data also proves that the things that matter most—human connection, convenience, and entertainment—will always find ways to give purpose to technology, wherever we are in the world.
Featured on Inc.com