Which apps were the most downloaded during lockdown?

Whether you spent the lockdown period socialising online, gaming or learning a new skill, there’s a good chance you used an app at some point during the time you were stuck at home. For this week’s Business Leader Top 12, we’ve looked at which apps were downloaded the most over the lockdown period.

This list is in order of the number of downloads the app received throughout 2020.

TikTok – 850 million

Since it was first released in the Chinese market in September 2016, the video-sharing social network has gone from strength to strength, culminating with more than 850 million downloads last year as people across the world looked to alleviate the boredom of being stuck at home by sharing their unique takes on the latest video trends.

Amazingly, in the same year as TikTok amassed more than 850 million downloads, then US President Donald Trump threatened to ban the Chinese video sharing platform, but this was overturned by President Joe Biden in June 2021.

WhatsApp – 600 million

With 600 million downloads in 2020, instant-messaging platform WhatsApp now has over 2 billion users worldwide. Incredibly, 27% of India’s population (390 million) are users of the American messaging service, which was bought by Facebook in February 2014 for approximately $19.3 billion.

For many countries, WhatsApp is the primary means of internet communication, and with so many of us stuck at home last year, the number of downloads the app received is, perhaps, reflective of the growing need for socialisation.

Facebook – 540 million

FacebookThe parent company of WhatsApp and another social media platform that is hugely popular in India, with 22% of the Indian population (320 million people) using the app, Facebook received a total of 540 million downloads across the world last year.

Founded in 2004, since Sheryl Sandberg became COO in 2008, the company has gone from a $56 million loss to having 2.9 billion monthly users by 2021 and a net income of $29.15 billion in 2020.

Instagram – 503 million

Instagram was the fourth most downloaded app of the 2010s, and with 503 million downloads in 2020, not even a global pandemic could slow down the popularity of the US photo and video sharing social network, which also happens to be owned be Facebook.

With 140 million users in the US, which is 42% of the country’s total population, 95 million users in Brazil (44% of Brazil’s total population) and 19.6 million users in Saudi Arabia (55% of the country’s population), Instagram is exceptionally popular right around the world.

Zoom – 477 million

Video callWith lockdown spelling a move to working from home for many of us, video conferencing platform Zoom took a big part of the responsibility for what had been lost: face-to-face meetings. From a social perspective, it also facilitated quizzes amongst friends and other online activities amongst people looking to reconnect.

Despite being founded in 2011, the US company only became profitable in 2019. But, with 477 million downloads last year, the company experienced a net income of $672 million in 2021. The video conferencing platform is preparing for a hybrid approach with people returning to the workplace.

Messenger – 404 million

Messenger is the fourth Facebook-owned company on the list. With 404 million downloads last year, this means that the total number of downloads from Facebook-owned companies in 2020 exceeded two billion, a truly remarkable figure.

The instant messaging app was first launched in 2011, but in April 2020, they launched Messenger Rooms, a video conferencing feature that was seen by many as a response to the growing popularity of Zoom and other video conferencing apps.

Among Us – 285 million

The first game to appear on our list, Among Us, is a social deduction game developed by US game studio Innersloth. Initially released in June 2018, it experienced a surge in popularity during the lockdown period, amassing 285 million downloads throughout 2020.

The game had 500 million monthly active players in November 2020 and is currently available on iOS and Android devices along with the Nintendo Switch. With plans to extend the game’s console release to PlayStation 4 and 5, and the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in 2021, the Among Us gaming community could continue to surge in growth.

Snapchat – 281 million

iPhone with Snapchat logo on itCreated by Bobby Murphy, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel, the latter who became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2015, multimedia instant messaging app Snapchat received a very impressive 281 million downloads in 2020.

Four billion messages, or snaps, as they are known, are sent on average each day, but messages, photos and videos are only available for a short time after being viewed by the recipient, which is one of the apps’ main features.

Telegram – 256 million

Another messaging app to make the list, which is not unsurprising considering the inevitable lack of socialisation caused from being stuck indoors, cross-platform, cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram received 256 million downloads in 2020.

Founded in 2013 by Russian brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who also founded Russian social network VK, the platform surpassed 500 million monthly active users and became the most downloaded app worldwide, with one billion global downloads, in January 2021.

Google Meet – 254 million

Google Meet is the second video conferencing app on this list, with its popularity undoubtedly spurred on with the shift to home working. The video-communication arm of US tech giant Google received 254 million downloads in 2020, placing it at number seven on the list of most downloaded apps during lockdown.

100 million users accessed the service each day by April 2020, but it will be interesting to see these figures now there has been a move back to the office and hybrid working models.

Subway Surfers – 227 million

With 227 million downloads in 2020, endless runner mobile game Subway Surfers was the second most popular game downloaded last year. Co-developed by Danish games companies Kiloo and SYBO Games, the game was first released in May 2012 and was previously the most downloaded game worldwide in 2017.

It was also the most downloaded mobile game of the decade from 2012 to 2019, and if it continues to perform as well as it did in 2020, who would bet against it become the most downloaded game of the 2020s.

Netflix – 223 million

With restaurants, cinemas, gyms and a wide range of other leisure activities coming to a halt during lockdown, many of us were looking for new ways to keep entertained. With its extensive selection of tv programmes and films, subscription-based video streaming service Netflix stepped in to fulfil that role, receiving 223 million downloads throughout 2020 in the process.

Such an incredible number of downloads led to revenues of $25 billion that year, and as of July 2021, Netflix currently has 209 million subscribers across the world.