Facebook products made up 60% of all app downloads last month

Almost two-thirds of all the apps downloaded on to mobile devices last month were either Facebook or another company owned by Facebook.

Facebook and other companies it owns were downloaded more times in May than all other apps put together

Facebook and other Facebook-owned apps were downloaded more than all other apps put together last month. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Almost two-thirds of all the apps downloaded on to mobile devices last month were either Facebook or another company owned by Facebook.

That was one of the main takeaways from a report from Japanese investment bank Nomura on Wednesday, which used numbers from data firm Sensor Tower looking at app downloads.

People now spend more time on their smartphone than they do on their desktop and laptop computers, and 85 per cent of that activity happens on some sort of app, Sensor Tower says. 

But the numbers suggest there are fewer and fewer apps that are drawing our time and attention online.

Shrinking market

The top 15 apps in the U.S. saw their downloads decline by an average of 20 per cent last month. Those apps saw growth of about three per cent outside of the U.S., but overall the app market is slowing down sharply from its previous torrid pace.

Sensor Tower's numbers show that the typical U.S. smartphone owner downloaded zero apps last month.

Amid a market like that, a lot of the activity is consolidating around a few names, most of which are owned or controlled by the 800-pound gorilla of the space: Facebook.

When figures for WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and its eponymous product are tabulated together, more people downloaded Facebook or Facebook-owned apps that all others put together. 

Together, those four apps were downloaded more than 142 million times in May. "Facebook's leadership remains undeniable given that its suite of owned app properties comprise more than 60 per cent of total app downloads," Nomura said.

Facebook's biggest single rival is messaging app Snapchat, which saw its downloads more than double last month to 27 million worldwide. That's big enough to be the fourth-most downloaded app, bigger than Instagram, Youtube, Netflix and Twitter.

Among U.S. users, Snapchat is now growing faster than Facebook.

Another app with strong growth is ride-hailing service Uber, which saw its downloads more than double to 10.9 million last month. Music streaming app Spotify saw more than 10 million downloads last month, but after that no single app was downloaded more than 10 million times in May.

"Mobile app growth is in the later innings, especially in developed markets," Nomura said.


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