When, two years ago, the European Commission announced its investigation on the Google practices in the mobile ecosystem, the authority prophesied that the Android’s owner was stifling innovation.
Since 2015, the reality is different. Innovation in the mobile sector is thriving, as proven by various studies: the Ericsson Mobility Report, from November 2016, recorded a tremendous increase in the number of smartphone users and, consequently, a tremendous increase in the number of apps that consumers use on their phones.
Currently there’s over 5 million Apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. According to AppAnnie, App developers are still creating, coding and inventing new services, features and tools for 1.4 billion users in 190 countries. Those smartphone users spend on mobile apps over 52% of the time they spend on digital media. And those numbers are only expected to increase in the future. Android downloads from both Google Play and elsewhere will have an annualized rate of 23 percent to 299.9 billion downloads by 2020. More and more apps, easily accessible, and that could be downloaded in a few seconds.
The developments are, clearly, not only in the numbers. More and more innovative solutions are being marketed for the benefit of consumers: think about the boom of digital assistants, for example, with Bixby, recently launched by Samsung, that joined Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, etc. This wave is also being ridden by mobile operators, as Orange and Deutsche Telekom revealed their own solutions. More innovative trends space from Virtual and Augmented Reality to the Internet of Things to Location Based Services, all accompanied by an attention, from the developers’ side, to improving the user experience and the security and privacy of the apps.
This level of innovation continues to attract investors. Recently, the French search engine, Qwant, raised €18m to develop its activities (source) and launched in January 2017 its apps for both iOS and Android. Such a growing and innovative sector needs an enabling regulatory environment to continue to prosper, innovate and benefit its users.
Director, European Policy & Government Relations