Last update: January 2022

4 mins to read - 2022/01/14

2022: The Year Device-Side Push Notifications Hit It Big

The last few years have been ones of great upheaval for the mobile industry. In 2020 we saw the COVID-19 pandemic cause a huge spike in device uses as people worked, went to school, watched movies, and played games remotely in unprecedented numbers. And in 2021, innovations with Apple devices such as the iOS 14.5 introducing App Tracking Transparency and then the iOS 15’s focus mode provided users with greater control over how they interact with push notifications. We’ve also seen Apple dip its toe into device-side processing for certain privacy features. Without a doubt, 2022 will also have exciting changes in store for the mobile industry, and our prediction is that device-side processing will make a breakthrough – first and foremost with push notifications!

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What Did the Mobile App Industry Look Like in 2021?

In App Annie’s State of Mobile 2022 report, they showed that without a doubt the upward trends of mobile seen in 2020 and 2021 are still very much going strong. New app downloads only saw a modest, 5% growth with 230 billion apps downloaded in 2021. However, the stats about where and how app users spent money in 2021 are where things get interesting. There was $295 billion of mobile ad spend in 2021, a 23% growth on 2020. Plus, there was $170 billion of app store spend, a growth of 19%.

Even more intriguing is the fact that the average time spent globally on mobile devices is 4.8 hours per day – a 30% increase from the previous year. People’s habits, both in app usage and app spend, are changing all across the board. Clearly, there’s an enormous amount of money to be made in the mobile app industry for apps that know how to grab their users’ attention and retain it.

Video streaming and social media apps by far saw the most growth, with TikTok especially seeing record engagement levels and growth of up to 75%. (Although a ban on TikTok in India saw a surge in downloads of Facebook and Instagram.) Mobile gaming also enjoyed tremendous momentum, with $116 billion in total consumer spend as mobile games entered the mainstream as a form of entertainment.

How Will Device-Side Push Notifications Revolutionize the Mobile Industry in 2022?

Based on the stats above, users are spending a third of their waking hours on their devices. And, while different age demographics gravitate towards different app verticals, the mobile ecosystem seems to be enjoying an upward trend in both spend and engagement that will keep going strong throughout 2022.

Surprisingly, push notifications are still somewhat treated as an “extra” in the mobile app ecosystem. Something that’s nice to have, but is usually included in a multi-channel mobile marketing package. Push notifications don’t get the love and attention they deserve because, using traditional delivery methods, they have been unreliable in terms of delivery timing, with sparse metrics that app developers can track. This means that on the app end there’s little control over when notifications deliver, how to optimize push campaigns, and even how much ROI you’re earning from your notifications. None of this inspires much confidence.

But device-side push notifications will completely change all misconceptions about mobile engagement, and its potential for connecting brands to users. First of all, device-side (also called edge computing) solves all the pain points and shortcomings of traditional push notification platforms, which are built around the cloud computing model.

reliability device-side computing

Device-Side Processing and Reliability in Push Notifications

We have gone into detail in previous articles about how device-side processing solves deliverability problems in mobile engagement. By processing all user data directly on the device itself, rather than transferring it to a 3rd-party cloud server (APNS for Apple, or Google Firebase for Android devices), device-side removes the data lag and unpredictability inherent to push notifications.

Once push notifications can deliver reliably, this opens the door to a lot of exciting new ways to personalize your push campaign. Most of all, developers will finally be able to choose the right moment to send notifications in real-time. Rather than having the cloud server blast out notifications in batches, developers can employ adaptive scheduling to ensure notifications deliver at the moment the user is most likely to click on it. (For example, during their lunch break, rather then at 2 am, when they’re probably sleeping.)


Since all processing occurs device-side, this means developers have full access to complete metrics of all push notifications. Rather than having those crucial insights disappear into a cloud database, an SDK such as OpenBack that leverages all user data on the device-side retains those metrics for the developer’s benefit.

OpenBack’s dashboard provides a simple interface for tracking complete metrics across the lifespan of your push campaign – and for multiple apps. With these insights, developers can track their push funnel as well as all standard metrics such as DAU and MAU rates, rolling retention rates, and much more.

To learn more about how to use mobile engagement metrics to optimize your push campaign, download the OpenBack Metrics Playbook:

Data Privacy

In addition to the reliability and personalization benefits, device-side processing also opens doors for data privacy compliance in the mobile app world. Because users’ personal data never has to leave the device, it’s possible to leverage it for the purpose of personalizing push notifications while never giving 3rd parties access to that data at any time. Thus, users’ personal identifiable information (PII) remains 100% in their possession, and safe from being breached or otherwise misused.

What’s more, because using the device-side method to deliver push notifications locally means that you don’t have to send the device’s push token to the cloud server, this means the mobile engagement SDK is fully compliant with all regional data privacy regluations – HIPAA, COPPA, and GDPR, as well as others. And in a world where data privacy and regulation compliance is increasing in importance – and where part of a mobile app’s due diligence is also to ensure that any SDKs it integrates with its app are also regulation compliant – the mobile engagement industry will soon reach a place where device-side processing is non-negotiable.

Do you have any questions about how device-side processing can optimize your mobile engagement campaign? Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more about how OpenBack’s mobile engagement platform is the first of its kind to use device-side data and machine learning to provide a first-in-its class push notification UX.

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