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 continues to have a record 218 billion downloads in 2020 and a global subscription of $143 billion. Last year, subscribers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using the app on Android devices alone.
And in the United States, 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. Applications 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 those without mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion into mobile companies – a figure that is up 27% year after year.
Following a previous test by Facebook starting this week in 2019, both Facebook and Instagram will begin publicly publishing the option to hide likes in the posts. -19 were deprived due to the epidemic and the necessary response work from Instagram. When the company tested how people felt about the like count, it received pushback from both sides – some wanted to see the information and others felt it was leading to a negative, competitive experience. The company has decided to split this distinction and leave the decision in the hands of their users. With the new settings, users can choose to disable like counts on their posts and preferences that will appear when browsing social apps feeds.
The decision, however, is not one of user empowerment, but rather a representative of an organization that targets (and targets the largest part) such a large number, refusing to have its own point of view on the controversial issue for fear of causing it to go public. You’ll see this in other areas of the business as well, such as how it sought to reduce its liability for how it was incorrectly reformed by managing fact-checkers, or how it loaded tough decisions about takedowns on an advisory board.
While it’s one thing not to forget a huge number of users, it’s still another way to turn away from responsibility when claiming to have turned every toggle and set something as the user’s choice.