The world's mobile users spent $71.3 billion on apps and games in 2018, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates reveal. This amount, spent on in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps on the App Store and Google Play, was 22.7 percent higher than the $58.1 billion our data shows was expended globally during 2017.
Users of Apple's App Store spent an estimated $46.6 billion in 2018, which was 88 percent more than the $24.8 billion spent on Google Play, according to our findings. This translated to year-over-year growth of 20.4 percent for the App Store, while Google Play revenue grew 27.3 percent over the same period. App Store Growth was 34.7 percent between 2016 and 2017, but declined between 2017 and 2018 due in large part to a slowdown in Chinese consumer spending over the past 12 months. Our estimates for Google Play revenue do not include Android revenue from China as the store is not available there.
First-time app installs exceeded 105.3 billion in total during 2018, representing combined growth for both stores of 11.1 percent year-over-year. This was less growth than was seen between 2016 and 2017, reflecting a slight deceleration in Google Play downloads during this analysis period.
Google Play app installs grew 13 percent year-over-year to 75.7 billion, having grown 16.7 percent between 2016 and 2017. Global App Store downloads totaled 29.6 billion for the year, a 6.6 percent increase over 2017. These figures put Google Play's lead in terms of first-time app installs at 2.6 times the App Store, its widest lead in downloads yet as Android continues to rapidly expand its user base in developing markets.
Mobile games saw worldwide player spending reach $54.7 billion in 2018, a year-over-year increase of 15.2 percent from 2017. This put mobile gaming's share of all app revenue for 2018 at nearly 77 percent, down from 82 percent the previous year as non-gaming apps continue to monetize better. App Store gaming revenue was up 10 percent from 2017 to $33.2 billion, while on Google Play it grew 24.2 percent to $21.5 billion.
Global downloads of mobile games grew modestly over 2017 at 6.4 percent, totaling an estimated 38.3 billion across both platforms. Google Play game installs grew slightly more than the App Store's at 6.4 percent versus 6.2 percent, to 29.4 billion and 8.9 billion, respectively.
We will be covering the top apps, games, and publishers of last year over the coming days, as our review of 2018 in the mobile app ecosystem continues. This will include the release of our 2018 Store Intelligence Data digest, offering a detailed analysis of both the full year and its fourth quarter, along with the most important trends, stories, market leaders, and more.
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Note: The revenue estimates contained in this report are not inclusive of local taxes, in-app advertising, or in-app user spending on mobile commerce, e.g., purchases via the Amazon app, rides via the Lyft app, or food deliveries via the DoorDash app. Refunds are also not reflected in the provided figures.
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