PUBG topped Apple’s list of most-downloaded free apps in 2018 for both iPhone and iPad, while Temple Run 2 came in at No. 3 on both devices. Games such as Minecraft also dominated Apple’s Top 10 List of Paid Apps, making it a solid bet that gaming apps will continue to thrive in 2019. But a closer look at the list reflects some deeper trends that technology industry insiders are watching closely.

YouTube was the second most popular free app for both iPhone and iPad, while the top 10 lists for both devices also included other video apps such as Vine and Netflix. Mobile photo-sharing apps like Snapchat and Instagram also came in high, along with Facebook’s app. All these trends reflect a growing market for mobile sharing of multimedia content, and the big story for app development in 2019 will revolve around marketers’ efforts to monetize this emerging opportunity.

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App Development

• The Mobile Advertising Revolution

J.P. Morgan Internet analyst Douglas Anmuth identified seven major online marketing trends to watch in 2019, as reported by Business Insider. Topping these is the fact that last year for the first time, more users accessed the Internet from mobile devices than desktops. This trend will reshape apps to serve mobile devices rather than desktops, as desktop applications simultaneously become mobile-oriented.

To Anmuth and other analysts, the big story here is how the mobile revolution will reshape advertising. Mobile-oriented ads modeled on Facebook’s News Feed will proliferate, displacing the dominance of display ads. Monetization of mobile media will grow as major advertisers increasingly pour TV ad budgets into Internet advertising. Anmuth cites Pandora’s video and audio advertising model as a trend-setter.

Major retailers will begin leveraging ads to reach the vast demographic represented by the customers of communications providers such as T-Mobile and mobile device manufacturers like Apple.

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• The Mobile Messaging Market

Within the growing mobile app market, messaging applications are surging fastest, reports Flurry Analytics. Messaging applications, including social and photo sharing apps, grew 203 percent in 2018, far outpacing utility and productivity apps, which increased 149 percent, and entertainment and lifestyle/shopping apps, which expanded 78 and 77 percent respectively. These trends indicate that the rise of Snapchat and Instagram will shape apps in 2019.

• What Mobility Means for App Developers

Taking a technical perspective on the impact of these marketing trends, research firm Gartner anticipates several major implications for app development in 2019. First, Gartner sees the emphasis on mobile apps shifting developers’ priority towards improving JavaScript performance with an HTML5 environment in mind. This does seem inevitable in the near future, though long-time observers such as Technopedia writer Chris Taylor express uncertainty about how quickly this will happen. Meanwhile, apps will become more focused on single tasks and less comprehensive in scope.

Gartner also advises developers of a growing demand for mobile-friendly interfaces, particularly improved support for voice and video communication. Additionally, mobile applications that can infer user intent from emotions and behavior will increasingly define user experience and drive development, Gartner predicts.


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