The smartphone industry is a global colossus, with billions of people carrying the small-screen devices on them for most of each day. For many, smartphones are the first things that we check when we wake up, and one of the last things that we look at before going to bed. So dominant and convenient is the device that the global smartphone market size eclipsed $480 billion in 2022.
With growth expected to continue, the market will have grown to over $790 billion before the end of the decade. Those with their feet in the door, like Apple and Android (operated by Google), will continue to take advantage of the necessity of smartphones, but it’s not their key functions that power the market forward.
An important and lucrative arm of the smartphone ecosystem is entertainment. It’s the range of apps and mobile sites that deliver high-quality entertainment that keeps people swiping. In 2020, the average time spent on video apps on smartphones hit two hours and 45 minutes per week in the US.
Device innovation plateaus while apps power up
Within each price bracket of the smartphone market, you can mostly see each device from the many manufacturers doing, more or less, the same things. There are some outliers, like Samsung pushing its foldable devices and Xiaomi going big on high-functioning budget phones, but for the most part, it’s the software and services that are innovating the most to get ahead within their own sections of the ecosystem.
You could look to Apple leaning into subscription services such as Apple Arcade as part of its model to offer more cost-effective in-house entertainment, or the rise of live streaming platforms. People are tuning in on social media to see the influencers they follow go live and perform skits, as well as on professional platforms specializing in products enhanced by live streams.
Often boasting mobile-friendly sites and apps, world-class online casinos have quickly taken to the new live casino products to expand their selections. The trend for live casino online games is clearly leading the way in popularity among mobile users. Players will seek platforms like The Clubhouse Casino which boasts over 440 live tables to play at with titles like Lightning Roulette, Boom City and Crazy Time.
Mobile gaming apps dip while other entertainment products rise
Once locked to computers and dedicated home consoles, video gaming has been able to explode via mobile devices. Now, there are around 3 billion mobile gamers in the world, making the segment the most lucrative of the entire gaming industry. Consumer spending eclipsed $41 billion in 2022, with the likes of PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, and Pokémon Go still making millions annually despite being free-to-start titles.
However, in 2022, mobile gaming apps reportedly saw a two percent downturn year-on-year. At the same time, other entertainment apps and all non-game apps saw a bump in revenues. Increasing at six percent year-on-year, streaming apps and social media reaped the most revenue to see the uptick even while gaming slid. The likes of YouTube Live, Twitch, Tubi, Popcornflix, and the big OTT streaming platforms like Netflix continue to see a large contingent of smartphone viewers.
To add further reason to spend hours on your smartphone, virtual reality headsets look primed to have their best year yet in 2023. Price points have gradually become more accessible, and right in that zone just before you get a premium kit, are those best suited to running VR apps on your phone that you slide into the headset. The Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, and Merge AR/VR headsets look to sell even more this year as people try out the experiences before going all-in on a more expensive bit of kit.
Smartphones only look set to continue to grow throughout 2023, with entertainment apps – even those beyond gaming – continuing to benefit from the convenience of the devices.