Data Used by Mobile App Downloads Surged 52% During COVID-19

“App Downloads Internet Bandwidth Growth Header”

A sharp rise in consumer adoption of mobile apps during the global COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a significant increase in internet bandwidth consumption around the globe, an analysis of Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals. The amount of data used for first-time installs of the top 250 mobile apps worldwide in Q1 2020 grew 34 percent from the year-ago quarter to 596 petabytes, or 596 million gigabytes, and was up 52 percent from the three-year average of 391 petabytes for the first quarter.

In comparison, the total bandwidth used to download the top 250 apps from the App Store and Google Play globally in Q1 2019, 446 petabytes, represented a 4 percent decline from the 464 petabyte total for Q1 2018. Last quarter’s pronounced increase in bandwidth use is not directly tied to an increase in average file size of the top 100 apps, which grew about 10 percent Y/Y from 1Q19.

Internet Bandwidth Used for Mobile App Downloads, Q1 2017 to Q1 2020

To put this data consumption into perspective, last quarter’s total of 596 petabytes used by first-time installations of the top 250 apps was equivalent nearly 53 million hours of 4K quality Netflix streaming or enough to completely fill the storage on approximately 9.3 million top-of-the-line iPhones. Note that this total does not include app downloads from third-party Android stores in China or elsewhere, nor does it factor in re-installs, updates, or installations of apps to more than one device associated with the same Apple ID or Google account.

New installs of mobile apps from Apple and Google’s digital storefronts totaled 33.6 billion in the first quarter of 2020, growing 20.3 percent Y/Y due to COVID-19-fueled adoption. You can find more insights on the global app economy during Q1 2020 in Sensor Tower’s latest quarterly Data Digest, available now as a free download and preview the potential lasting impact of COVID-19 on the ecosystem in our five-year 2024 market forecast.

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