Welcome to apps this week, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile apps and the overall app economy. The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion consumers spending worldwide in 2020. Last year, consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using the app on Android devices alone. In addition, in the United States, the amount of app usage has increased before spending time watching live TV.
Currently, Americans watch 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spend four hours per day on their mobile devices. Apps are not a way to pass idle time – they are a big business in 2019, the combined value of mobile-first companies was $544 billion, 6.5 times more than without mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion into mobile companies – a figure that is up 27% year-over-year.
This week, there is a headline-breaking app ecosystem news including an effective decision to drop Google Play Store commissions, an app store lawsuit against scam apps with fake ratings, a fight over Apple’s app tracking transparency, and a significant new arrival, including a feature on YouTube – a tick called Shorts Rival. Costa Eleftheriou, co-founder of the Flexi Keyboard app, has been raising awareness about the App Store scandal in recent weeks, with her own app targeted by copyright subscription scammers using fake ratings and reviews to gain tracking.
This week, Eleftheriou filed a lawsuit seeking to hold Apple accountable for the loss of its own app, saying that Apple promised developers a secure and reliable market place, but then allowed these scammers to harm legitimate apps like its own. Although some news articles have identified the case as a kind of no-confidence case, it focuses more on scammers and accountability for how the Apple Store is managed, which apps are listed, and how much it can be managed and polished.
Because of Apple’s poorly powered app marketplace, Eleftheriou is asking Apple to compensate for its lost earnings and other losses, as well as claiming that it has rejected the app review.