The Most Successful Mobile Apps Of All Time

Updated on July 2, 2020 by
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During 2019, the mobile market experienced a major boom. According to Statista, users around the world downloaded 204 billion apps in 2019. That’s up from 140.7 billion in 2016. In 2019, these downloads amounted to 462 billion USD worldwide.

The most used apps in the world are actually free, and include well-known names such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps and Instagram. But when it comes to apps, success can be defined in many ways: apps that made the most money, most downloaded apps, apps that broke all records.

Here’s a look into apps that have impacted the market in a major way.

Most Successful Free App: Facebook

Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site and one of the most downloaded apps in the world, with 4.6 billion downloads in the past 10 years.

Despite being a free app, Facebook’s revenue is one of the highest for any app out there. In the third quarter of 2019 alone, Facebook’s revenues added up to a massive $17.65 billion. Facebook also owns other apps in the top 5 most downloaded list, including Whats App and Instagram. Together with Facebook and Facebook Messenger, they amount to over 16 billion downloads.

Most Popular App Game of the Decade: Subway Surfers

If you thought Candy Crush would win this one, you’d be wrong. Endless runner game Subway Surfer is the most downloaded game ever with over 2.7 billion downloads. It was also the first game ever to reach 1 billion downloads and averages 100 million monthly active users. Although the game is free to download, it offers in-app purchases, with revenues of over $80 million up to date

Game App with the Highest Revenue: Fortnite

Fortnite – which is available to play on mobile, computers and consoles – has broken every record imaginable. Released in March 2018, Fortnite has over 250 million players around the world and is available in two versions: a battle royale game and a team-based survival shooter version. In November 2018, when the game released in South Korea, a record number of 8.3 million players were online at the same time.

While the game is free to download and play, 70 percent of players make in-game purchases. In 2018, the game had revenues of over $2.4 billion USD, surpassing every other popular game out there, including Pokemon Go (which earned “just” $1.3 billion that same year).

Most Used App in the World: WhatsApp

Just two years ago, instant messaging tool WhatsApp was ranking behind Facebook as the most popular app in the word. Since 2019, it’s taken the top spot with 2 billion users around the world. While Facebook has more app downloads overal, WhatsApp is used more often and by more people on a regular basis.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for US$19 billion, the most expensive purchase Facebook has ever made.

Breakthrough App of 2019: Tik Tok

Chinese-owned Tik Tok appeared on the charts in 2018 and by 2019, it was the second most downloaded app, right behind WhatsApp and above Facebook. Self-described as “a global video community powered by music,” Tik Tok now has over 800 million active users. Tik Tok is also unique because it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand what users want and then delivers that kind of content to them. ByteDance, the company behind Tik Tok, is now worth over $110 billion.