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Pakistan mobile apps downloads surge 35 percent in 2022

By Rehan Ayub
February 03, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan became a fastest growing apps market in terms of downloads in 2022, with a growth rate of 35.4 percent as compared to the previous year, according to a report from a private markets intelligence platform.

The growth in the number of apps downloaded in Pakistan was three times higher than of China, second in the list, that expanded slightly over 10 percent. India was on third in 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. Zindigi from JS Bank also aggressively marketed its digital wallet. Meanwhile, digital lending apps had a somewhat mixed 2022 as amid spike in downloads, they witnessed a regulatory crackdown.

According to the research, Pakistanis spent 161 billion hours on mobile in 2022, reaching to 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 Philippines for a first in terms of downloads during 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 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 most downloaded apps in Pakistan. The popularity of Whatsapp Messenger waned from 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 other emerging markets like Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Universal TV Remote Control was the odd one out in 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 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 ‘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 characaterised 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.