The app industry’s reckoning with privacy, control, and consumer empowerment

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For the first 12 years of its existence, the app industry, like many nascent markets, pursued growth by focusing primarily on investor-pleasing metrics such as user acquisition and revenue generation — oftentimes at the expense of the trust and confidence of the very users that fueled its growth.
But the events of 2020 have left the industry shaken and ready for change.
The year started out innocuous. In the first quarter alone, investors pumped more than $700 million into gaming startups, while a number of acquisitions north of the $100 million mark — including one for more than half a billion dollars — left us all feeling woozy with confidence. Not even rumors of IDFA deprecation could pose too much concern, as options like SKAdnetwork were floated as alternatives and the assumption was that a solution would present itself.
The first of several seismic shifts to the industry would strike in March, when the coronavirus pandemic sent us all sheltering in place and caused us to start using apps in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Overall app usage increased 40% year-over-year in Q2, and consumer in-app spending surpassed $27 billion, a record high. And yet, certain segments — like travel, real estate, and mobility apps — suffered enormous losses in traffic …

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