App Revenue Statistics That Will Make You Join a Startup

We could start this app revenue statistics article by saying how prevalent and important mobile apps have become in our everyday lives. But you already know all of that.

From talking to our friends to searching for jobs, calling cabs, finding restaurants, and finding love – it’s all in the apps.

But how much money do apps generate? To find out, we have to look at the playing field.

App revenue statistics key findings

  • In 2018, global mobile app revenue topped $365 billion. Estimates say that by 2023, mobile apps will generate more than $935 billion per year.
  • The leading mobile app publisher, King, earned $93.8 million in January 2019.
  • In-app purchases now account for 48.2% of mobile app earnings.
  • In 2018, games accounted for 74% of total consumer spending on apps.
  • Estimates say that the United States has passed Japan to become the top-earning country on Google Play.
  • On average, US players spend $87 on mobile games.
  • In 2019, Tinder overtook Netflix as the non-gaming app with the most revenue.
  • Netflix earned $853 million in 2018 via the iOS App Store.

The main players in the game are, of course, Apple and Google. Each has its own store: the App Store and Google Play. While there are third-party stores, these two companies are surely the main market contenders. Currently, it seems that Apple is the leader revenue-wise and one of the main reasons for that is that Google Play is banned in China – the biggest market in the world. Still, nothing is set in stone and no king rules forever. This year, the long reign of Netflix as the top-grossing non-gaming app has ended, with Tinder rising to the top. It seems that yes, love does win in the end.

If you want to know who’s getting rich and who’s scraping the bottom of the barrel keep reading and check out the app revenue stats below.

Mobile app industry statistics

1. In 2018, the global mobile app revenue surpassed $365 billion. Estimates say that by 2023, mobile apps will generate more than $935 billion.

(Statista)

According to Statista’s data on the mobile app market share, the global mobile app revenue for 2019 amounts to around $461.7 billion. This is almost $100 billion more than 2018, when global app revenues reached $365 billion. The mobile app money tree is expected to keep growing in the following years. Analysts predict mobile app revenue to reach $935 billion by 2023.


2. The leading mobile app publisher King earned $93.8 million in January 2019.

(Statista)

As we can see from mobile app revenue statistics, mobile games are responsible both for the majority of mobile downloads and revenue generated through apps. Statista’s data from January 2019 shows which mobile game publishers earned the most that month. First on the list and way ahead of the competition is King, the publisher behind the famous Candy Crush Saga games. In January alone, King raked in $93.8 million in revenue. The next publisher on the list, Supercell, earned almost two times less in the same period – $54.6 million. Namco Bandai holds the third spot with $44.3 million in revenue.


3. The top non-gaming mobile app publishers are Google, Disney, and Tinder.

(Statista)

When we look at the ranking of publishers behind non-gaming top revenue apps, there’s really not many surprises there. In November this year, Google earned the most through apps, generating $28.36 million. Following Google is Disney, with $19.51 million earned in the previous month. Tinder is the third non-gaming developer by revenue on the list, earning $18 million in November. Tinder, a developer of the dating app of the same name, is rocking the charts recently, upsetting the status quo in the market. Tinder is generally free to use but offers premium features in exchange for a monthly fee. These features include unlimited swipes, the ability to see who liked you, and so on. One of the rising stars is Spotify that already earned around $4 billion in 2o19 alone.


4. Users spent around $21.9 billion on apps on the App Store and Google Play in the third quarter of 2019.

(Sensor Tower)

Sensor Tower’s data shows that in the third quarter of 2019, consumer spending on mobile apps amounted to $21.9 billion. This statistic covers both the Google Play and iPhone app revenue statistics. This is a 22.9% increase from Q3 in 2018 when the mobile app revenue amounted to $17.9 billion.


5. In-app purchases now account for 48.2% of mobile app earnings.

(Invesp)

There are several monetization methods through which app developers earn money. The apps can be prepaid – meaning you have to pay a certain sum before being able to download the app. Apps can also rely on a subscription model – paying a monthly fee in order to use the application. Another prominent method for generating revenue is through in-app ads. However, the most popular way of generating revenue seems to be through in-app purchases. According to app industry statistics on revenue provided by Invesp in 2017, in-app purchases were responsible for 48.2% of all mobile app earnings.


6. Only around 5% of users spend money on apps.

(Invesp)

While in-app purchases amount to a sizeable portion of all app revenue, they depend on a small, devoted amount of users. Invesp’s data shows that only around 5% of app users actually spend money on them. It is a pretty small percentage that showcases the flaws of monetization systems that rely on purchases or subscriptions. This is especially true for mobile games, where many games rely on so-called “whales” – users who spend huge amounts of money on in-game purchases.


7. In-app ads are the preferred monetization model in over 50% of casual and hyper-casual games.

(AppsFlyer)

The problems with relying on in-app purchases have led to a shift in monetization policies in many mobile games. Mobile games are slowly ditching in-app purchases in favor of placing in-app advertisements.

AppFlyer’s app developers revenue statistics show that ads are the dominant monetization model in over 50% of casual and hyper-casual games. That does not mean that microtransactions are out of the equation. They can be present simultaneously with ads. Furthermore, in-app purchases are still the monetization model of choice for 70% of midcore and strategy games.


8. Mobile drew in 67.3% of digital and 29.2% of total media advertising this year.

(eMarketer)

Ad placement in mobile apps seems to be the next big thing for developers. Well, they’re in for some good news, since the global ad spending is massively prioritizing mobile as a platform. Drawing from mobile app advertising revenue statistics provided by eMarketer in 2018, mobile amounted to 67.3% of digital advertising and 29.2% of total advertising that year. The portion of total ad spending which is devoted to mobile will rise to 41.9% by 2022.


9. In 2018, games accounted for 74% of total consumer spending on apps.

(App Annie)

In the land of apps, mobile games are king. According to App Annie’s mobile game revenue statistics, mobile games accounted for 74% of consumer spending in app stores.

But, not only do mobile games form the majority of consumer spending in app stores, they also amount to 60% market share of consumer spending from 2019 – a 35% increase from 2013.


10. China, the United States, and Japan accounted for 75% of all user spending for mobile games.

(App Annie)

China, the United States, and Japan are the leading markets for mobile gaming, the largest app subsector. In 2018, these three countries accounted for 75% of global consumer spending in mobile gaming. According to app revenue statistics by country, consumers in China and the United States are buying a lot more games. Chinese mobile gaming revenues rose by 105%, while Americans spent 45% more than in 2017.


11. Worldwide app downloads went over 194 billion in 2018, up 35% from 2016.

(App Annie)

Not only are we spending more on mobile apps, but our general app usage has also increased greatly, boosting mobile app industry growth. App Annie’s State of Mobile from 2019 brings data on the increase of global app downloads. According to their stats, global app downloads went over 194 billion in 2018, a 35% increase from 2016.


12. China accounted for almost 50% of all total downloads in 2018.

(App Annie)

Mobile app download statistics reveal that China, the biggest market out there, accounted for 50% of all app downloads in 2018 across iOS and third-party Android. The recent freeze on licenses issued by the Chinese government did not impair app usage in that country too much. From 2016 to 2018, China saw a 70% increase in app downloads. India witnessed the largest increase in app downloads for the same period – a jaw-dropping 165% jump.


13. Estimates say that the United States will pass Japan in 2019 to become the top-earning country on Google Play.

(Sensor Tower)

When we look at revenue rankings on Google Play by the app’s country of origin, Japan was the highest-earning country in 2018. According to app revenue statistics Japan’s 43% YOY growth is what propelled it to the first spot. However, as Sensor Tower’s Market Forecast predicts, the United States will overtake Japan in 2019.

Brazil has the second-highest number of app downloads. And in 2023, this country is expected to enter the list of top 10 countries by revenue.


14. The amount of time we spent on apps globally grew by 50% in the 2016-2018 period.

(App Annie)

Drawing from App Annie’s app revenue and usage statistics we can see that the time we spent in apps globally has increased by 50% in the 2016-2018 period. As expected, social and communication apps took up 50% of the time we spent on apps in 2018, followed by video players and editors (15%) and games (10%).

The app categories that are demonstrating rapid growth are video players and editors, entertainment, photography, tools and finance. The time users spend in these categories increased by 110% from 2016 to 2018.


15. Total time spent on shopping apps also grew, reaching 18 billion hours in 2018, up 45% from 2016.

(App Annie)

While the amount of money we spend on apps has surely increased, we’re also spending more through mobile apps as well. According to App Annie’s app revenue statistics, the global time users spent in shopping apps jumped to 18 billion hours in 2018, a 45% increase from 2016. In November 2018, a period when people shop for the holidays, there was a record-breaking amount of time spent in these kinds of apps.

China is, of course, the leader in this sector as well. Chinese users spent up to 11 times more time on shopping apps than their American counterparts. Thailand however, saw a gigantic increase in time spent on shopping apps – 475% in two years.


16. User spending on the App Store and Google Play will reach $156 billion by 2023

(Sensor Tower)

Total app revenue will increase in the upcoming years. This includes both the money earned through user spending and through ads. When we look at user spending for the mobile app market in particular, Sensor Tower estimates that it will jump by a whopping 120% by 2023. If these predictions are correct, global user spending on applications will reach $156 billion in 2023.


17. 95% of app store revenue from mobile games comes from in-app purchases.

(App Annie)

In app purchase statistics show that only 5% of app store spending comes from purchasing the games themselves, while 95% of it comes from microtransactions: loot boxes, XP boosts, time-savers, and other stuff you purchase while playing the game. This monetization model is mostly reserved for freemium for free-to-play games, which cost nothing to download. Users find that progress is much slower or downright impaired unless they purchase add-ons during play.

Data provided by Techsport shows that 95% of all app-store revenue comes from in-app purchases. This means that only 5% of total revenue is generated by subscriptions or paid downloads. Instead, the dominant monetization model is to offer various purchasable benefits inside the apps themselves. In most profitable apps these are so-called microtransactions – loot boxes, boosters and time savers – which give you an edge when playing a game, provide cosmetic rewards or just speed up certain processes in the game. In non-gaming apps, these in-app purchases usually unlock additional features.


18. On average, US players spent $87 on mobile games in 2019.

(Rakuten Intelligence)

Rakuten Intelligence brings to light data on how much American consumers spend on mobile games. According to their statistics from 2019, US players spend $87 on mobile games on average.


19. US mobile games revenue is expected to reach $10 billion.

(Statista)

Evident from the successes of highest grossing games, both the general and mobile gaming markets are expected to keep growing in the upcoming years. Mobile gaming growth statistics show that the United States, the second-largest mobile games market, is keeping up with global trends, with and expected mobile games revenue of $10 billion.


20. Mobile ad spending rose by 29% in 2019.

(Mobile Marketer)

Ads on mobile are the future. Both those that create and promote advertisements, as well as those that place them inside their apps, seem to recognize this. According to Mobile Marketer’s mobile ad spending revenue statistics, the first quarter of 2019 saw a 29% increase in mobile ad spending compared to the same quarter in 2018. Mobile is predicted to become the preferred platform for video ads in particular, thanks to the advancements in connectivity such as the 5G network.

Google and iOS store revenue statistics

21. Subscription-based monetization models led to a 57% YOY revenue growth on the App Store.

(Sensor Tower)

Sensor Tower’s market forecast for the 2019-2023 period brings about predictions on future shifts in the app market. Their analysts believe that the rise of subscription-based monetization will drive app revenue growth in the next five-year period and increase the mobile applications market size. Subscriptions were, according to Sensor Tower, responsible for a 57% YOY revenue growth in the App Store.


22. By 2023, games will only account for 60% of the revenue on the App Store.

(Sensor Tower)

In 2017, mobile games accounted for 78% of all app revenue in the App Store. However, Sensor Tower reveals that there’s still hope for non-game apps. App Store revenue has a projected growth of 24%, compared to 12% for mobile games. This means that games will account for only 60% of the total app revenue by 2023.


23. Android games are predicted to earn more revenue than iOS games.

(Wccf tech)

Currently, iOS app revenue statistics show that games from Apple’s store are earning more than their Android counterparts. Estimates for 2019 say that the total revenue generated by mobile games, across both platforms, amounts to around $68.5 billion. Of that amount, 48.9% or $33.5 billion was earned by iOS games. Android’s Google Play store has a 35.8% market share ($24.5 billion), while the last 15.3% goes to Android-based third-party stores like Aptoide.

However, it seems that Android, as a platform, will be performing better in this tug-of-war over the next few years. Android’s popularity continues to grow, especially driven by games like PUBG Mobile and Auto-chess. In 2019, Android (including Google Play and other Android-based stores) had 51% of the market, a marginal lead over iOS. However, it’s unclear whether Google Play will be able to overtake the App Store in the future. One of the main reasons for this is that Google Play is banned in China, the biggest market out there.


24. In November 2019, the Android app that earned the most revenue was the mobile game Coin Master.

(Statista)

Statista’s Android app revenue statistics  reveal that almost all the highest-earning apps are mobile games. The first three are Coin Master ($42.34 million), Candy Crush Saga ($38.94 million), and PUBG Mobile ($30.11 million). The first non-gaming app on the list holds a distant 7th place – Tinder, with $18 million earned in November 2019.


25. The top-grossing iOS app in November 2019 was Tinder.

(Statista)

When looking at the top apps by revenue in the iOS App Store the situation is pretty similar to Android’s. This list is also dominated by mobile games with one significant difference – the number one spot is held by a non-gaming app. According to Statista, Tinder earned the most in November 2019 – $37.28 million. Following Tinder were Monster-Strike ($29.27 million), King of Glory ($27.29 million) and Dragon Quest Walk ($24.91).


26. The average in-app purchase on Android is $0.43, compared to $1 on Apple.

(Invesp)

According to app revenue statistics for Google  Play, Android users spend an average of $0.43 per purchase. Those making in-app purchases on Apple systems spend more than twice as much: $1 each.


27. In 2018, gaming apps accounted for 87% of total Google Play revenues.

(Statista)

Mobile game revenue statistics from Statista project a drop in mobile gaming’s contribution to Google Play revenue of 1% by 2023. The decline is expected to be larger at Apple’s App Store.


28.  The Apple store earns almost twice as much as the Google Play store: 64% to 36%.

(Sensor Tower)

Not only do Apple users spend more on in-app purchases, but initial purchases cost more too. Drawing from Sensor Tower’s in app purchases revenue statistics, the iOS App Store was responsible for 64% of total revenue generated by the two stores in the first quarter of 2019. Consumer spending in the App Store totaled about $12.4 billion worldwide.


29. Google Play revenue reached $7.1 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

(Sensor Tower)

App revenue statistics show Google Play revenues grew 20.2% over the first quarter of 2018, when Google Play raked in $5.9 billion.


30. In the third quarter of 2019, Google Play downloads increased by 11.4%, while App Store downloads rose by 5.3%.

(Sensor Tower)

As we saw from app download statistics, the global number of app downloads is increasing at both major app stores. However, Google Play is growing faster. In the third quarter of 2019, Google Play saw 21.6 billion downloads, an increase of .11.4%. The Apple Store had 8 billion downloads for the same period.


31. Chinese customers purchased more than 2 billion fresh installs during the second quarter of 2019.

(Sensor Tower)

Which country purchased the most new installs on the App Store? You’ve guessed it – Chinese purchases accounted for a growing chunk of mobile app market share. Behind China were the US, Japan, and Great Britain.


32. India had the most new installs on Google Play in the second quarter of 2019.

(Sensor Tower)

While China dominated the App Store, India is the leader in new installs on Google Play. In Q2 2019, India had 5.26 billion downloads, a 19.8% increase from Q2 2018. Following India are Brazil (1.89 billion downloads), the United States (1.49 billion) and Russia (968 million).

Most popular app revenue statistics

33. Photo & Video is the fastest-growing app category on the App Store.

(Sensor Tower)

The new drivers of revenue in the app market seem to be Photo & Video applications. These applications have earned more than $500 million in Q3 2019 alone – a 75% YoY growth. This whole category experienced a 101% CAGR growth from 2016 to 2019.

YouTube is the biggest driver of revenue here, especially after Youtube Premium was introduced. This app was responsible for around 30% of the global revenue generated by Photo & Video apps in Q3 2019. Among the rest of the apps in this category, 22 of them had at least $3 million in revenue, while only 3 of them had that much 2 years ago.


34. TikTok has a 371% annual growth rate, earning $40 million on the App Store in the third quarter of 2019.

(Sensor Tower)

According to messaging app revenue statistics, this app, hailing from the Chinese developer ByteDance, earned almost $40 million on the App Store in Q3 of 2019. This puts TikTok in third place in the photo & video category by revenue, behind YouTube and Kwai.


35. WhatsApp was the top downloaded app in the third quarter of 2019 with more than 180 million downloads.

(Sensor Tower)

WhatsApp, a communication app owned by Facebook, has been dominating the charts of most downloaded apps for a while now. Following WhatsApp are TikTok, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook.


36. While WhatsApp is one of the most downloaded apps ever, it’s not earning that much money yet.

(Business of Apps)

WhatsApp is definitely the most downloaded app, but how much does it earn? Before being bought by Facebook, secure messaging app and business revenue statistics show that WhatsApp generated revenue through the $1 per year fee (or a flat $1 on download charge), which led to only a small amount of revenue – $1.3 million. In early 2016, WhatsApp went completely free. The app now mostly earns revenue through its WhatsApp Business API and other charges relating to WhatsApp for Business. Furthermore, even though WhatsApp originally wanted to avoid placing ads on the app, Facebook announced it will add them in 2020.

FAQ

  • How much revenue does an app generate?

Individual apps can wildly differ in the amount of revenue they generate. Netflix, which was the top-grossing non-gaming app in recent years earned $853 million in 2018.

  • How much is the app market worth?

In 2018, global app revenue was about $365 billion. App publishers are predicted to earn more than $935 billion by 2023.

  • What mobile app has made the most money?

The mobile game Candy Crush Saga earned the most in 2018, raking in $930 million.

  • Which apps have the most users?

These are mostly apps that come preinstalled or are owned by Google and Facebook. The most popular apps are Facebook (more than 2 billion users), YouTube (1.9 billion) and Instagram (about 1 billion).

  • How do app owners make money?

App owners earn revenue by charging for downloads, offering subscription-based services, charging for in-app purchases, and displaying ads.

  • What are the highest-grossing games on iOS?

According to Business Insider’s app revenue statistics, the highest-grossing games on the App Store are Clash of Clans, with more than $1 million earned daily, as well as Candy Crush Saga ($884,676 per day) and Game of War – Fire Age ($572,498 daily).

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