The global demand for VPN apps has been increasing since 2014. It was speculated that 2019 would see some huge numbers, and they were right. A report by Top10VPN has revealed that more than 480.1 million mobile VPN apps have been downloaded over the past year from the official Apple iOS and Android app stores.
This number is up from 311 million in 2018 and 198 million in 2017 for the same period. That’s a steady increase of 50% in VPN App downloads each year.
Approximately 75% of the downloads were for Android devices (358.3 million) and 122 million downloads were for Apple iOS devices. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Android has a significantly higher user base worldwide.
Across various parts of the world, as overall internet censorship and authoritarian regulations are rising, VPN apps are becoming more of a necessity rather than just popular.
So who drew big numbers?
Though there’s a clear spike in VPN usage worldwide, it’s clear that the South Asian and APAC regions have the biggest chunk. Case in point: Over the past 12 months, Indonesians have downloaded over 75 million VPN apps for various purposes. Similarly, Vietnam and South Korea saw a 140% and 75% increase respectively while Kazahkstan and Jordan saw a spike of 380% and 210% respectively.
However, India saw the biggest jump in VPN mobile app downloads this past year. A massive 405% increase over the past 12 months with more than 57 million registered downloads. And a huge majority of those downloads were free VPN apps.
Top 10 Countries by VPN Apps downloaded in the past 12 months
Free mobile VPN apps vastly outnumber paid services on the app stores. Over the past 12 months, eight out of 10 mobile VPN downloads have been free apps. Globally, free services account for 84.3% of all mobile VPN services downloaded this past year.
Regionally that translates to:
- Asia Pacific: 89.8%
- Europe: 77.2%
- Latin America: 90.3%
- Middle East & Africa: 91.0%
- North America: 68.1%
The most downloaded apps, according to Android and iOS app store reports were TurboVPN (51.3 million), Hotspot Shield (42.8 million), and Betternet (29.9 million). Clearly, free apps are leading the charge of this VPN wave. While they might not offer all the features a “Quality VPN” app would, a free service providing basic privacy (of sorts..) is still invaluable.
And this is exactly what most of the countries mentioned above need. Kazahkstan, Jordan, and Vietnam are all going through political unrest with governments running surveillance programs, bandwidth throttling, and blacklisting sites. South Korea blacklisted close to 900 websites with increased mass surveillance on the horizon. India, while politically stable right now, famously banned over 800 adult websites along with restricting various mobile-related services owing to local conflicts, elections, mob lynching cases, and a blackout in response to the ongoing turmoil in the Kashmir region.
What about China?
You might have noticed the obvious absence of China from the above numbers. That’s because China is notoriously closed-doors and statistics aren’t available for their VPN usage. Knowing the current situation surrounding China, it’s safe to assume that the VPN market is thriving there as well.
This just goes to prove that the masses are never in the dark for too long. Despite the “best” efforts by overseeing governments, these mobile VPN apps will always enable people to access the information we need. With the global populous growing more tech-savvy by the day, and mobile VPN apps estimated to hit 1 billion downloads in the next couple of years, censorship could soon become obsolete.