Pakistan recorded 3.5 billion downloads in FY2022, ranking ninth in the world compared to 12th in 2021 when downloads were 2.6 billion. As a result, Pakistan is the fastest-growing apps market with a 35.4% increase in downloads. That’s almost triple China’s 12.9%, which saw the second-highest growth.
According to Insight data.ai, a global technology research agency, Pakistanis spent 161.2 billion hours on mobile devices in 2022, up from 134.1 billion hours a year earlier. That puts the country in sixth place, the same as it will be in 2021. Unsurprisingly, China tops this chart with a whopping 1.16 trillion hours, while India follows behind with 655.6 billion.
Global mobile advertising spending grew 14% to $336 billion, driven by short video apps. The growth in the number of apps downloaded in Pakistan was three times higher than that of China, second in the list, which expanded slightly over 10 percent. India was third on the growth list.
Pakistan’s mobile market witnessed strong growth in apps for a fourth year straight, with 3.52 billion downloads, which put the country in the 9th position globally in 2022, three notches up from the last year, the report by Data Darbar revealed. In the finance category, EasyPaisa and JazzCash were the most downloaded apps with around 15 million monthly active users each.
Today there are over 70 million social media users in Pakistan (over 31% of the population), with YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram being the most used social platforms. From a gender perspective, however, the gap between men and women in using social media is very high, ranging from 78% to 47%.
Zindigi from JS Bank also aggressively marketed its digital wallet. Meanwhile, digital lending apps had a somewhat mixed 2022 as amid a spike in downloads, they witnessed a regulatory crackdown. According to the research, Pakistanis spent 161 billion hours on mobile in 2022, reaching the sixth rank in terms of hours, the same as in 2021. The rate of increase in average data consumption slowed down in 2021-22, growing by only 11.5 percent over the last year.
However, since 2017-18, the average data usage has more than tripled. Among peer countries, Pakistan overtook the Philippines for the first in terms of downloads in 2022. Bangladesh also had a good year and made it to the ranking with around 2.5 billion downloads.
In terms of the number of outstanding active apps by local publishers, Pakistan was second to Indonesia. However, in terms of traction and usage, very few of the locally developed apps made it to the top charts in Pakistani. At 4.9K, Pakistan had the second most publishers among peer countries.
The number is more than that of Bangladesh and Egypt combined. However, some publishers for legal or other reasons are headquartered elsewhere, which might understate numbers for not only Pakistan but other emerging markets.
Meta and ByteDance (TikTok) featured in the top ten charts of the report for the most downloaded apps in Pakistan. The popularity of Whatsapp Messenger waned in 2021, and WhatsApp for Business witnessed great interest. However, the biggest gainer was CapCut, Bytedance’s video editor.
Meanwhile, Snapchat’s growth has continued unabated despite never attracting much hype from media and marketing. Among Pakistan-based developers, telecommunication products continued their dominance a common trend not just here but in other emerging markets like Indonesia and Bangladesh.
Universal TV Remote Control was the odd one out on the list, underlying how the opportunity in tools is truly global. Its publisher Codematics is a tech company based out of Abbottabad and claims over 100 million users for the app.
In the shopping category, Alibaba made massive gains on the back of its continued engagement with Pakistani businesses. It helped it even edge out Daraz in terms of downloads, despite their aggressive customer acquisition through cricket streaming.
The report continued that short format video skyrocketed around the world post Covid, including Pakistan as the top five apps (excluding Tiktok) in the category recorded 36 million downloads in 2021. Installs eased to 21.6 million but the category continued to lead the ‘top grossing’ chart on Google Play.
Audio streaming continued its gains in 2022 as downloads of the top five apps reached 23.5 million. More than half of them came from Spotify alone, as the streaming giant further makes inroads into the Pakistani market. Starmaker also doubled its installs appearing on the top charts, according to the report.
In video streaming, Tamasha doubled its downloads probably because of its cricket streaming, beating Netflix by a margin. ARY ZAP also emerged on the scene as a major player. However, the category continued to rely heavily on cricket streaming to attract users and is characterized by low retention rates.
The report was prepared by Data Darbar that is a private markets intelligence platform for emerging markets that brings insights from Pakistan’s tech-driven economy. Data.ai’s report states that Instagram was the most downloaded app in 2022. That finally ended TikTok’s two-year reign as the video giant slipped to second place in short format.
Meanwhile, Facebook ranked third despite all the rumors about its stagnant growth. It also led in terms of monthly active users, which is probably a better metric for a company of its size. The following three biggest apps WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger also belong to Meta. According to the Pakistan Telecommuting Authority (PTA), there are 4.9 billion internet users worldwide, of whom 3.2 billion (about 85% of the total) are from lower-middle-income countries.