Top 100 Mobile Apps in Korea in 2020

Top 100 Mobile Apps in Korea in 2020

The Korean market has one of the highest mobile Internet usages in the world. The 2019 Internet Usage Survey conducted by the Ministry of Science and ICT shows that 91% of the country’s population aged 3 years and older are Internet users, with 94.9% of them using their smartphones to connect to the Internet.

South Korea’s smartphone penetration is highest in the world at 95.42% as of 2020. For Korean people, shopping online, watching YouTube and scrolling Instagram is a daily must do. With so many hours spent looking at these mini screens, we explore the top popular and most downloaded apps, user trends and the future of the mobile market in Korea.

Data has been collected from IGA Works, based on Android OS and iOS users.

1. The Top 100 most used Mobile Apps in South Korea (December 2020)

  1. KaKao - messenger

  2. YouTube - video sharing

  3. Naver - search engine

  4. Google - search engine

  5. Google Chrome - web browser

  6. Coupang - e-commerce (Amazon of Korea)

  7. Band - social media (from Naver)

  8. Instagram - social media

  9. Baemin - food delivery

  10. T-Call - phone calling

Data from IGA Works, Translated by AJ Marketing

South Korea is a difficult market to crack, even for well known top platforms that are enjoyed in other countries. Globally popular applications like Uber, Apple Pay, Spotify and Snapchat have seen limited success in South Korea.

Looking at the list of the top used 100 applications, we can see that domestic apps are heavily favored by Koreans. Naver, a local tech giant has developed multiple apps of its own, including Naver Map, Naver Cafe and Naver Webtoon. Koreans are notoriously loyal to these domestic apps for e-commerce purchases, food delivery and mobile payments.

In contrast, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, as well as video sharing apps like YouTube and TikTok have shown great success in Korea. Apps like these are well established and have become an everyday part of Koreans, which makes it difficult for domestic Korean social media apps to compete.

2. The Top 100 Newly Installed Mobile Apps in South Korea (2020)

  1. Carrot Market - e-commerce (used item marketplace)

  2. Baemin - food delivery

  3. Instagram - social media

  4. Coupang - e-commerce (Amazon of Korea)

  5. Zoom - video conferences

  6. Kart Rider Rush+ - gaming

  7. Netflix - content streaming service

  8. TikTok - social media

  9. T-Call - phone calling

  10. Naver - search engine

Data from IGA Works, Translated by AJ Marketing

South Koreans spent more time on their mobile devices than ever before in 2020. A report has shown that Koreans spent an average of 4.4 hours on mobile devices per day, up 19% from the previous year in “pre-pandemic” times.

A combination of unprecedented time spent at home and scarcity of social activities drove people to spend more time looking at their mobile screens. With this increased screen time, Korea people explored different applications that they were not using before or ones that became popular.

The list of the 100 newly downloaded apps is noticeably different from the 100 most used apps. There are platforms that become popular during the pandemic, such as ZOOM, Netflix, Among Us and TikTok. The list there are apps like Baemin and Yogiyo that correlate with the explosive demand of food delivery services.

'Today House,' a social media based interior decoration platform was also downloaded in large numbers. This is due to people staying home more often and wanting to create a space that is stylish and comfortable to be in for long periods of time.

Games like KartRider Rush+, Among Us, Battleground and ROBLOX also experienced a wave of new downloads during 2020.

3. The Future of the Mobile Market in Korea

With more time spent looking at smartphones, consumers were also shown to spend more money. Though many apps are available for free in the App Store or Play Store,

in-app purchases are a huge source of revenue for developers.

In addition, the online advertising market has skyrocketed in 2020. More focus is being shifted to mobile ads (as opposed to PC) especially, in efforts to take advantage of the increased time spent looking at phones.

Domestic apps have dominated Korean market for years. However, several global platforms from social media, content sharing and gaming industries have been successful in penetrating Korean market. The trend is that more global markets are successfully entering Korean market and we expect this trend to accelerate in the future.

The life cycle of apps changes with current social and economic trends. Many of the apps that were downloaded in 2020 are there as a direct result of the pandemic, which has shifted the way in how we interact with people, eat and spend our free time.

With its high mobile Internet usage, the Korean market is enticing to app developers all over the world. Most of Korea’s digital services also happen to be concentrated in Seoul, a city that serves as a one-stop location for all domestic business needs. For brands and developers looking to expand into the Korean market, we can help you create a unique marketing strategy that caters to the right audience.

To learn more about opportunities in Korea, please check our related business intelligencer reports:

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