Feb 16, 2021 - Technology

Google and Facebook still dominate mobile apps

Data: Comscore; Note: Data reflects total U.S. Smartphone Mobile Media Users, Age 18+ (iOS and Android Platforms); Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Google and Facebook's share of the top 15 mobile apps by reach in the U.S. has increased in the past few years, despite the fact that dozens of new mobile apps, from TikTok to Zoom, have experienced record downloads.

Why it matters: Most of our time engaging with digital content happens in mobile apps. Google and Facebook continue to dominate the app economy, and through it, the attention economy.

By the numbers: Nearly 80% of all digital minutes are spent on mobile, per Comscore, and roughly 88% of those mobile minutes are spent within apps.

  • Properties that skew toward mobile-only usage tend to be linked to sectors that Google and Facebook dominate via apps, like social media, messaging and news and information. Markets where Google and Facebook do not have a dominant position, like higher education and training, tend to be more focused on desktop use.

Details: Over the past six years, Google and Facebook have collectively owned roughly eight of the top 10 smartphone apps in the U.S., and a sizable chunk of the top 15.

The top 15 apps in the U.S. as of this month are:

  1. YouTube
  2. Facebook
  3. Gmail
  4. Google Maps
  5. Google Search
  6. Facebook Messenger
  7. Amazon
  8. Weather Channel
  9. Google Play
  10. Instagram
  11. Apple News
  12. Google Drive
  13. Google Photos
  14. Pandora
  15. Spotify

What to watch: As both companies face lawsuits over their market dominance, the question of how much of the mobile app economy — and the digital economy writ large — that they own will only grow more urgent.

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