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Global app stores’ consumer spend up 19% to $170B in 2021, downloads grew 5% to 230B – TechCrunch

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Consumer spending on mobile apps reached $170 billion in 2021, according to App Annie’s newly released “State of Mobile 2022″ report, out today, which offers a comprehensive look at the app economy across iOS, Google Play and third-party Android app stores in China. That figure is up 19% year-over-year, which is down just one percentage point from the growth rate the firm reported in its prior annual report. Growth in app downloads, however, dipped a bit more. Though today’s consumers are installing more apps than ever — 230 billion were downloaded in 2021, setting another record — the growth rate itself is slowing.

In January 2021, App Annie reported year-over-year download growth of 7% during 2021, which has now dropped to just 5% in 2021.

Download growth today is being driven largely by emerging markets like India, as well as Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Egypt.

Image Credits: App Annie

What’s also clear is that consumers are spending more time in apps — even topping the time they spend watching TV in some cases.

The report noted the average American watches 3.1 hours of TV per day, for example, but over the course of the past year, they spent 4.1 hours on their mobile device. And they’re not even the world’s heaviest mobile users. In markets like Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea, users surpassed 5 hours per day in mobile apps in 2021.

Across the top 10 markets analyzed in the study, the average time spent in apps topped 4 hours, 48 minutes in 2021 — up 30% from 2019. This included the averages from Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, India, Japan, Turkey, Singapore, Canada, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., Australia, Argentina, France, Germany and China combined.

Much of this time was spent in social, photo and video apps, which accounted for 7 out of every 10 minutes spent on mobile in the past year. These categories, plus entertainment apps, also appeal to Gen Z users, particularly in the U.S.

Here in the U.S., Gen Z’s most-used apps included Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Netflix. Millennials meanwhile preferred Facebook, Messenger, Amazon and WhatsApp. Gen X, which has now been lumped into the Baby Boomer demographic (ack!), used The Weather Channel, Amazon Alexa, NewsBreak and Ring.

Image Credits: App Annie

This increased time spent in apps has had a direct impact on consumer spending. In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic’s lingering effects have forced users to shop, work, learn, game and entertain themselves from home over the past year. This led to “phenomenal” growth in consumer spending, App Annie said, as the market added $43 billion in 2021, or $10.4 billion more than 2020, equating to 30% year-over-year growth — higher than the global average.

At the high end of consumer spending, there were 233 apps and games that pulled in more than $100 million in 2021, and 13 titles that generated over $1 billion. This is up 20% from 2020, when there were then 193 apps and games topping the $100 million mark, and only 8 titles making over $1 billion annually.

Image Credits: App Annie

Outside the consumer spending that included paid apps, subscriptions and in-app purchases, the broader mobile app market topped $295 billion in 2021, up 23% year-over-year, despite fears from marketers over Apple’s privacy changes and IDFA crackdown. In 2022, the market is expected to grow to $350 billion, aided by big events including the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. mid-terms.

Image Credits: App Annie

New mobile app releases also grew in 2021, as publishers launched 2 million new apps and games, bringing the total number of apps and games ever released across the App Store and Google Play to 21+ million. Of course, older apps and games have since been removed over the years either by the publishers themselves or the app stores during cleanups. Currently, there are 5.4 million “live” apps and games available on the app stores, 1.8 million of which are on iOS and 3.6 million on Google Play.

Google Play also accounted for 77% of all the new releases last year, while games made up 15% of all releases across both stores, the report noted.

Image Credits: App Annie

App Annie’s full report took a deep dive into individual app categories, as well, including gaming, finance, retail, video streaming, food & drink, health & fitness, social, travel, dating and more.

Among the highlights from its findings:

  • Gaming: An additional $16 billion in gaming consumer spend was added in 2021, bringing the total spend to $116 billion.
  • Finance: Finance app downloads in India topped 1 billion in 2021, driving the category’s 28% year-over-year increase in downloads to 5.9 billion worldwide.
  • Shopping: Time in shopping apps reached over 100 billion hours spent globally in 2021, up 18% year-over-year. Countries with the fastest growth include Indonesia, Singapore and Brazil (52%, 46% and 45%, respectively).
  • Video Streaming: Total hours spent watching video streaming apps grew 16% worldwide since pre-pandemic levels. But China saw declines as users shifted to short-form apps TikTok and Kwai. Netflix is on track to top 1 million downloads in more than 60 countries in 2022.
  • Food & Drink: Sessions in food & drink apps reached 62 billion in 2021. Several regions drove growth in Q4, including the U.S. (42% year-over-year), Russia (154% YoY), Turkey (75% YoY) and Indonesia (over 9x growth).
  • Health & Fitness: Worldwide downloads of health & fitness apps surpassed pre-COVID levels in 2021, despite a slight softening from a pandemic-induced high in 2020 in most countries. The top five meditation apps worldwide saw 27% year-over-year growth in consumer spending.
  • Social: Time spent in the top 25 livestreaming apps outpaced the social market year-over-year by a factor of 9 — year-over-year growth of 40% compared to all social apps at 5%. Global spend in the top 25 livestreaming apps in 2021 grew 6.5x from 2018 and 55% year-over-year. TikTok saw year-over-year growth rates as high as 75%.
  • Travel: Downloads of travel apps rebounded by 20% in H2 driven by sharp increases from July-December 2021. H2 downloads hit 1.95 billion globally, nearing pre-pandemic levels of 2.08 billion H2 2019.
  • Dating: Worldwide consumer spending on dating apps topped $4 billion in 2021, a 95% increase since 2018. Growth was primarily driven by the U.S., Japan, China and the U.K. Tinder led the market with $1.35 billion in worldwide consumer spending in 2021.

The report also listed the top apps and games worldwide and by individual countries by both downloads and consumer spending. Globally, the top five most downloaded apps in 2021 were Google Meet, Instagram, TikTok, Microsoft Teams and InShot. By consumer spend, the list was YouTube, Tinder, Tencent Video, Disney+ and TikTok.

Image Credits: App Annie

Top games by download included Project Makeover, acquapark.io, WormsZone.io, DOP 2: Delete One Part and Bridge Race. By spending, the list was led by Honour of Kings, Fantasy Westward Journey, Candy Crush Saga, Homescapes and Empires & Puzzles.

Image Credits: App Annie

The full report is here.

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Paris-based VC firm Partech unveils Chapter54 accelerator to help European startups cross into Africa – TechCrunch

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Partech Shaker, the innovation division of the Paris-based VC firm Partech, has launched an accelerator program christened Chapter54 to help European startups launch in African markets.

The accelerator will take in 10 technology startups annually over the next four years for the Chapter54 program, which will last up to eight months. Application for the inaugural cohort will open next month, and successful startups will begin the acceleration journey in April.

Chapter54 will be funded to a tune of $5.7 million (EUR 5 million) by the KfW Development Bank on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

“Investors from all sectors are welcome – but they must have business experience, be registered in a European country and active in two European countries, and have a solid financial foundation and regular income,” said KfW.

Vincent Previ, the managing director of Chapter54 told TechCrunch that startups will be taken through several preparation stages including mentorship programs with founders running successful enterprises across the continent, and with c-suite tech or startup executives.

“We have a very good knowledge of the European tech ecosystem because we are one of the most prominent investors in European tech. We are now a major investor in African tech, and we have the capacity to run innovative projects through Partech Shaker… From KfW’s view, we were a good player to run this acceleration program,” said Previ.

Chapter54 will match mentors with startups based on their business models, conduct webinars with different speakers and review startups’ operation roadmaps “to check if what they have designed is consistent with the reality on the ground.”

Previ said that during these sessions, they will “check that the participating companies have the right level of knowledge of what it means to run a tech business in Africa, and have what it takes to hire tech people.”

“We are going to have a session where we will compare the gig economies in Europe and Africa, and another where we will help them do a B2C market sizing in Africa (which is not similar to Europe).”

“If you want to enter Africa, you have to do it properly, and as per legal requirements. You have to tweak the way you work. We are going to help them to reinvent the way they operate their businesses (to enter African markets).”

Chapter54 is targeting startups in growth stage with some sizable traction in the countries they operate in across Europe.

Partech has 15 investments in nine different countries across Africa including Wave; a U.S. and Senegal-based mobile money service provider, Tugende, a Ugandan mobility-tech company, and Trade Depot, a Nigeria and U.S.- based company that connects consumer goods brands to retailers.

Africa’s growing young and tech-savvy population, deepening internet penetration, developing digital infrastructure, and fast uptake of modern technologies by its people has made the continent the next growth frontier. KfW said it is supporting Chapter54 to promote growth and create jobs.

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Ahead of a February event, Samsung teases Galaxy S/Note merger – TechCrunch

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Last summer, Samsung announced that – for the first time in a decade – it wouldn’t be releasing a new Note. The future of the well-loved phablet was a big, open question, as the hardware giant acknowledged a shift in focus to foldables, a form factor it felt was finally ready for a truly mainstream push.

Further muddying the waters is the Galaxy S line – Samsung’s primary flagship, which has steadily been blurring the line separating itself from the Note. “Instead of unveiling a new Galaxy Note this time around,” the company’s president wrote at the time, “we will further broaden beloved Note features to more Samsung Galaxy devices.”

That’s meant a fairly steady increase in the S series’ screen sizes over the years, culminating with the addition of S-Pen functionality for the S21 Ultra last January. In August, the company also brought its proprietary stylus to the Galaxy Fold line leaving some wondering whether the Note was quietly being phased out.

Coming fresh off CES and staring down the face of MWC, we find ourselves entering Unpacked territory – the time of year when the company announces the latest additions to the S series. Roh is back with another somewhat vaguely worded post that celebrates the life of the Note’s life, pointing out how its 5.3-inch display caused a minor stir back in 2011. It seems quaint now, though it’s worth pointing out for those who weren’t at the IFA unveiling, that big screens meant much larger and thicker devices than they do now.

The post strongly suggests a proper merging of the two flagships to make more room for its foldables.

“With every fresh evolution of Samsung Galaxy devices, we have introduced features that redefine the entire mobile category,” the executive writes. “And we’re about to rewrite the rules of industry once again. At Unpacked in February 2022, we’ll introduce you to the most noteworthy S series [emphasis added by TC] device we’ve ever created. The next generation of Galaxy S is here, bringing together the greatest experiences of our Samsung Galaxy into one ultimate device.”

“Noteworthy” could mean a lot of things in this context. The most obvious seems to be an S22 Ultra becoming the S22 Note. Does that mean a proper stylus slot? Could we be seeing further S Pen integration across the lines? I’d say most likely not to that one, if only because the carefully worded post uses the singular “noteworthy device.” There are still some big questions in the lead up to the event – which may or may not be answered early, given the frequency of leaks surrounding these devices. Also on-tap for the line are improved night/low-light photos and a more sustainable design, which has become a priority for the company in recent years.

Samsung is once again betting that consumer excitement and brand loyalty will be enough to get users on-board, sight unseen as it gets set to open reservations for the new smartphone and an unnamed Galaxy tablet tomorrow.

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a16z, Avenir and Google back South African mobile games publisher Carry1st in $20M round – TechCrunch

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Carry1st, a South African publisher of social games and interactive content across Africa, has raised a $20 million Series A extension led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). This is a16z’s first investment in an Africa-headquartered company (the firm has previously invested in Branch and Zipline, companies with some of its operations in Africa but headquartered in the U.S).

Carry1st also received investments from Avenir and Google; it’s the latter’s second check from its Africa Investment Fund.

A couple of prominent individual investors, including Nas and the founders of Chipper Cash, Sky Mavis and Yield Guild Games, took part.

The round — which is an extension of the Series A Carry1st raised last May from Riot Games, Konvoy Ventures, Raine Ventures and TTV Capital — also saw the same investors double down on their investments in the company. 

Andreessen Horowitz general partners David Haber and Jonathan Lai will join Carry1st’s board as observers. 

Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu founded Carry1st in 2018. The South Africa-based company, which currently has a team of 37 people across 18 countries, wants to use this additional capital to scale interactive content across Africa.

The company started as a game studio where it conceptualized, developed (from system designs to artwork and engineering), and launched mobile games. Over time, it switched to a hybrid model, adopting a publishing role and handling distribution, marketing and operations.

Carry1st co-founder and chief executive Robbin-Coker told TechCrunch that Carry1st has mainly focused on its publishing arm since it went hybrid.

The three-year-old company has signed publishing deals for seven games from six studios globally, including Tilting Point, publisher of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which Carry1st recently launched in Africa. Others include CrazyLabs and Sweden’s Raketspel, a studio with over 120 million downloads across its portfolio.

Carry1st said it provides a full-stack publishing solution, handling user acquisition, live operations, community management and monetization for its partners.

“We have a full-suite service that starts with distribution and partnerships. We help them create bespoke marketing materials from short-form advertising videos to statics, and we customize their content to resonate with individuals in different countries,” said Robbin-Coker.

“And then we operate the game and we also monetize. So we’ve built out our monetization engine to allow users to be able to pay for content that they want more easily across Africa.”

It also enhances monetization in the region through its embedded payments solutions, where customers can pay via a range of local payment options, including bank transfers, crypto and mobile money.

L-R: Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, Lucy Hoffman and Cordel Robbin-Coker

Shortly after closing its Series A round, Carry1st launched its online marketplace for virtual goods. On this marketplace, called Carry1st Shop, users of a Carry1st game can purchase virtual goods such as airtime, mobile data, entertainment vouchers, grocery store vouchers and gaming currency.

Games revenue has increased 90% month-on-month since the second half of last year, the company said. It’s not unexpected considering the astonishing growth of games in terms of quantity and revenue (gaming apps accounted for nearly 70% of all App Store revenue last year) on both Apple and Google stores since the pandemic.

The company’s online marketplace is noticing even faster growth, said Robbin-Coker, especially among users in South Africa and Nigeria.

Carry1st will use this funding to expand its content portfolio, grow its product and engineering teams, and obtain “tens of millions” of new users on the back of this revenue growth in its games and marketplace products.

In a statement, the company said it intends to acquire more users by expanding into game co-development with studios. It is also eyeing the possibility of developing infrastructure to support play-to-earn gaming in Africa, thus venturing into web3.

Cryptocurrency tokens such as SLP, AXS and MANA are used in play-to-earn games. They can be withdrawn to a crypto wallet and traded for another cryptocurrency like bitcoin or ultimately sold for fiat cash to be used in the real world. Carry1st wants to create on- and off-ramps (platforms that convert fiat into crypto and back) and accept crypto at point-of-sale in its marketplace.

“When we think about Carry1st, we want to be the leading consumer internet company in the region. And we think that the best kind of wedge would be able to do that is a combination of gaming and micropayments and online commerce,” the CEO said.

“These industries are being pretty significantly disrupted or augmented with web3 and crypto. And as more gaming content starts to integrate with NFTs and cryptocurrencies, we think there’s a really big opportunity to partner with those studios the same way we partner with free-to-play studios.”

Africa is the next major growth market for gaming globally. The rapid tech adoption from its 1.1 billion millennials and GenZs is a significant driver for this. Carry1st released a report last year with Newzoo showing that the number of games in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 275% in the next decade. Gaming revenues are projected to see a 728% increase in the same period.

These stats present a much bigger addressable market than what Carry1st envisioned when it launched four years ago. And with the company’s converging at the intersection of gaming, fintech and web3, there is a broader set of opportunities (which we can see in other emerging markets) to go after in Africa. It’s one factor that piqued a16z’s interest in the company.

“We are delighted to be making our first investment in an Africa-headquartered company in Carry1st, a next-generation mobile games and fintech platform,” Haber said in a statement. “We see immense opportunity for the company to mirror outstanding successes we’ve seen in markets like India, China, and Southeast Asia. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with founders Cordel, Lucy, Tino, and the Carry1st team on their mission to build the Garena of Africa.”

Carry1st was seemingly intentional about the investors it brought into this round, especially as it looks to move deep in gaming, web3 and fintech across Africa.

As one of the largest crypto-centric funds, at over $3 billion, a16z brings unmatched expertise in gaming and web3. Google, via its products and phones, will help Carry1st deepen penetration and engagement in Africa. At the same time, Avenir continues to make a big push in African fintech following its big-sized check in Flutterwave.

As for the individual investors, Nas has been fairly prolific with his crypto investments, and Axie Infinity founders own the world’s biggest web3 gaming company.

“It’s a heavyweight group. We’re excited, and we think that their combination will be beneficial for us. Hopefully, it’s a sign that we’re on the right track and this helps drive strategic partnerships for us in the future,” said Robbin-Coker.

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