We’ll see two new entrants to the exclusive club of apps with a billion users in 2022. TikTok will continue to grow faster than any other big mobile property. And we’ll spend over $3 billion in metaverse apps.
Those are just some of App Annie’s predictions for 2022.
TikTok’s growth will put it in truly exclusive territory. Think Facebook territory.
“It is the fastest to the … one billion user club: active users,” App Annie CEO Ted Kratz told me in a recent TechFirst podcast. “We anticipate 1.5 billion MAU [monthly average users] for TikTok in 2022, which would put it just behind Facebook and WhatsApp as the only other two with more users.”
The billion-user app club has just 20 members to date in late 2020:
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- Subway Surfers
- Candy Crush Saga
- UC Browser
- Clean Master
Two new entrants, according to App Annie, will be Pinterest and the venerable endless running game Temple Run 2. And TikTok, which will have 1.5 billion active users, will hit a total of over three billion app installs.
At the same time, Krantz says, the metaverse isn’t just Facebook hype. There will actually be significant consumer dollars spent inside metaverse-relevant apps.
“We’re forecasting over $3 billion for the metaverse. And we kind of see it as the collision of gaming, NFTs, and crypto,” Krantz says. “The primary emphasis for metaverse, at least in the short term in 2022, we believe is going to be around gaming companies with apps like Minecraft and Roblox.”
That’s not gone unnoticed by major brands: Nike recently launched the NIKELAND showroom as a space in Roblox for games, virtual Nike gear for your avatar, and — of course — massive brand exposure to young people. It’s not just games, however, dating giants like Bumble are exploring meeting options in the metaverse as well.
Another interesting prediction: spending in social apps is going up significantly.
Typically, social apps have monetized via advertising, while games have the the premier spaces for direct monetization via in-app purchases. That’s no longer exclusively true, says App Annie.
“For 2022, we’re predicting in-app purchases in around $9 billion for social apps,” Krantz told me. “So that’s led by TikTok. It’s followed closely by Bigo. And Twitch is number three.”
(Bigo is a livestreaming platform with over 100 million downloads.)
“But then what I also think is interesting is kind of the parlay between social and gaming, because there’s … this whole co-creation and coplay and crossplay,” adds Kratz. “That is the reality for both social and gaming, and so you start to see a little bit of this integration between those two categories that I think will continue and also drive into the streaming category as well so that entertainment, gaming, social all become kind of this cross-domain reality of a virtual world that expands the opportunity for more immersion.”
That’s interesting, because when social networks can monetize in ways beyond advertising they can become commercially viable at lower scale, adding competition to what has largely become a one-horse race: Facebook owns four of the top five apps listed above.
It also opens the door to mixed experiences: potentially a metaverse type of environment with gameplay, commerce, socialization, entertainment, and more all wrapped up in one package.
Part of that: NFTs.
NFTs and collectibles have become must-participate options for brands. Any brands that aren’t building NFTs should be thinking about them, and enabling distribution via major platforms — including apps — is a big opportunity. As, of course, Gucci and Adidas and Nike, the NFL, and the NBA have discovered.
Fintech will also continue to grow in 2022.
App Annie says we’ll see growth to almost 19 billion in-app sessions in fintech apps in 2022: 155% growth from 2020. A major driver is crypto and Gen Z.
“This is really millennial-driven,” Krantz says. “They’ve already taken over kind of the Boomers and the Gen X-ers in terms of adoption and leading the way there, but what’s fascinating is Gen Z is catching both the Boomer and Gen X demographic really quick. So you can see that the youngest generation targeted from a commercial perspective, Gen Z and the millennials that really grew up in the sweet spot of digital are driving the adoption across these different apps, led in the U.S. by Robinhood and Coinbase.”
Finally, we also tend to want to be entertained, and that’s not changing in 2022.
App Annie says that worldwide spend in entertainment apps will hit $12 billion globally by 2022. That includes revenue in apps like Hulu, Discover Plus, and YouTube.