Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy. The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spending in 2020.
Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.
This week we’re looking into the app store bill in Arizona, the trend of animating family photos, and what’s next for Twitter’s Clubhouse rival, among other things. This Week in Apps will soon be a newsletter! Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters.
Arizona House passes a bill that would allow developers to avoid the “Apple tax”
This week, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 2005) that could significantly impact Apple and Google’s grip on the App Store market. Unlike a similar measure recently shot down by the North Dakota Senate, this new bill doesn’t force app stores to offer alternative ways for developers to distribute their apps. Instead, it focuses on giving developers the right to use third-party systems that would allow them to circumvent the 15%-20% cut that Apple and Google take from app sales, in-app purchases, and subscriptions.
Apple and Google lobbyists were already fighting against this bill before formally introducing it by Arizona State Rep. Regina Cobb. Cobb says she was approached by a lobbyist representing Match Group and the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) — the latter, which has organized some of Apple’s most significant competitors — like Epic Games, Match Group, Spotify and Tile — to fight back against Apple’s control of the app ecosystem.