Messaging app downloads increase by 50% in 2014 – report

App market data provider App Annie has published its 2014 Retrospective report on last year’s top app trends, showing significant growth in ‘sharing economy’ apps such as Airbnb and Uber, as well as messaging app downloads increasing by over 50%.

The report said ‘super casual’ gaming apps such as the single-tap Flappy Bird gained hugely in popularity, while the use of messaging platforms by publishers for content distribution also rose sharply.

Global App Store and Google Play downloads of the top 10 messaging apps increased 53% in 2014 compared to 2013. These included WhatsApp, Line and WeChat, which offer a variety of functionalities such as gaming, sticker packs, taxi-hailing, mobile payments and streaming media. Tencent’s WeChat claimed to have 468 million active monthly users, while WhatsApp grew so quickly last year that Facebook snapped it up for €19 billion.

The adoption of travel and transportation apps was fuelled by funding from some large venture capitalists, as well as by strategic partnerships such as Uber integrating with Google Maps and Lyft hopping in bed with crowd-sourcing public transit app Moovit. Peer-to-peer housing platforms such Airbnb, Homeaway VRBO, Couchsurfing and Dwellable represented some of the most used accommodation apps. Downloads of the 10 most popular travel and transportation apps from Google Play and App Store grew 31% in 2014.

Downloads of the top 10 video streaming apps from iOS and Google Play stores increased a significant 44% in 2014, driven by number of factors including growing availability of high-speed data especially in China. Other factors included popularity of larger screen-sized phones, bigger data plans, as well as availability of localised content from Netflix in Europe.

The report also said having a strong app is now a key means of viewer retention for many TV networks and operators. Many also unbundled from pay-TV operators, while sports content apps such as At Bat, NFL Game Pass and BoxNation became more widely used.

App Annie said it expects to see more premium content unbundling in 2015, with apps providing viewers a more flexible way of streaming on the go.

According to the findings, Google Play was leading in worldwide app downloads with almost 60% more than iOS App Store. But so the App Store generated over 70% more annual revenues than Google Play. Both stores grew during the period.

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