TikTok, four apps from Facebook (now Meta), and and a few social apps are once again top-10 apps globally for the entire year of 2021, according to app statistics compiled by Apptopia.
Many of the leaders were down, however, from their download counts for the previous year.
Here are the top 10 globally most-download apps of 2021:
- TikTok: 656 million
- Instagram: 545 million
- Facebook: 416 million
- WhatsApp: 395 million
- Telegram: 329 million
- Snapchat: 327 million
- Zoom: 300 million
- Messenger: 268 million
- CapCut: 255 million
- Spotify: 203 million
Many were down from their download totals from 2020, however. TikTok had 850 million downloads last year; almost 200 million more than the still-impressive 656 million it achieved in 2021. WhatsApp was down over 200 million app installs as well, and Messenger was down from 404 million last year to 268 million this year. Facebook, Meta’s flagship app, was also down, having achieved 540 million installs last year compared to 416 million in 2021. Zoom had 477 million installs in 2020 versus 300 million in 2021.
Google Meet and Netflix were on the list last year.
But both dropped off entirely this year.
On the gainers side, Instagram was up about 40 million installs from last year.
And private messaging and groups platform Telegram was the big winner of 2021, up almost 75 million installs from 256 million last year to 329 million this year. A likely reason for the Telegram increase is the desire for more privacy, as well as a flight from mainstream social networks by people claiming censorship on the part of the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
The top 10 downloads list for the U.S. specifically looks a little different, and shows significant strength in video streaming platform HBO Max, which edged out Netflix and Disney+, both of whom were top-10 in 2020, for top streaming service by number of installs in 2021:
- TikTok: 94 million
- Instagram: 64 million
- Snapchat: 56 million
- Cash App: 56 million
- Zoom: 52 million
- Messenger: 51 million
- Facebook: 47.3 million
- WhatsApp: 47.2 million
- YouTube: 47 million
- HBO Max: 45 million
Music and audio is usually an extremely competitive segment, but it’s not even close there.
The winner, which more than doubled the global installs of its nearest competitor, is Spotify, which snagged 203 million app installs in 2021. Google’s music app, YouTube Music, was third with 79 million, and Amazon Music was seventh with 44 million.)
But there was a very interesting new upstart from a very familiar source that hit the top 10 list despite being available in only three countries.
“While Spotify continues to blow all competitors out of the water, a newcomer has gone from not on the top charts at all last year, to all the way to the second most downloaded music streaming app in the world,” says Apptopia VP of Insights Adam Blacker. “That app is Resso, which is owned by Bytedance, maker of TikTok. Resso launched in May 2019. The app is live in Brazil, Indonesia and India.”
Top 10 most-downloaded music and audio apps for 2021:
- Spotify: 203 million
- Resso: 85 million
- YouTube Music: 79 million
- StarMaker: 76 million
- Shazam: 75 million
- SoundCloud: 52 million
- Amazon Music: 44 million
- Wink Music: 38.2 million
- Music Player: 38 million
- JioSaavn: 35 million
(An important note about Apple Music: it is preloaded on each iPhone and iPad — an interesting antitrust scenario — and therefore does not hit any “most downloaded” lists. One other interesting point: Shazam, which ranked fifth in downloads in 2021, is owned by Apple.)
U.S. leaders in music downloads are Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud, YouTube Music, and iHeart, with SiriusXM and Audiomack also making the top 10 list.
Games are always huge, making up more than half of the app in Google Play and Apple’s App Store, and more than half of the app installs. Interestingly, the top 10 most-downloaded mobile games for 2021 is lead by a game that was released almost a decade ago, in May 2012. Joining it are other somewhat aged games like 8 Ball Pool, which has been around for years, and King’s Candy Crush Saga, also launched almost a decade ago in 2012.
The top 10 most-downloaded games of 2021:
- Subway Surfers: 191 million
- Roblox: 182 million
- Bridge Race: 169 million
- Garena Free Fire – New Age: 154 million
- Among Us: 152 million
- Hair Challenge: 138 million
- Join Clash: 136 million
- 8 Ball Pool: 130 million
- Ludo King: 125 million
- Candy Crush Saga: 119 million
The top games in the U.S. include Roblox, Project Makeover, Among Us, Bridge Race, and High Heels.
Retail is always interesting as well, as the most-download apps provide insight into which retailers are winning mobile, and therefore, in large part winning e-Commerce. While Amazon leads in the U.S. with 40 million installs locally, three apps have more global installs than the U.S. retail giant. Shopee with 203 million, SHEIN with 190 million, and Mesh with 153 million all lead Amazon, which captured 148 million global app installs.
Other global players include Flipkart, AliExpress, Wish, Pinduoduo, and Alibaba.