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Consumer Spending In Mobile Apps Grew 17% in 2019 to Exceed $83 Billion Globally

Global spending on the App Store and Google Play reached a record $83.5 billion in 2019 on 17% year-over-year growth, Sensor Tower data shows.

2019's Mobile App Revenue and Downloads Hero Image

Users of Apple's App Store and Google Play spent an estimated $83.5 billion globally in apps and mobile games during 2019, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals. Reflecting the total revenue from in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps on both stores, this amount was 17 percent greater than the $71.3 billion in spending they generated during 2018.

Worldwide Mobile App Revenue and Downloads

Apple's App Store saw user spending reach a record $54.2 billion for the year, reflecting growth of 16.3 percent year-over-year from $46.6 billion in 2018. The sum generated by iOS was 85 percent greater than the $29.3 billion spent by Google Play users during the same period, with the spending gap between the two platforms narrowing three percentage points over 2018. While the Play store's user base spent less than their counterparts on iOS, Google's platform revenue grew slightly more Y/Y, increasing 18.1 percent.

Entertainment apps represented the largest portion of App Store spending outside of Games at $3.9 billion, increasing 18.5 percent over 2018. Social was the highest earning category on Google Play for the year with nearly $686 million spent, up 32.4 percent Y/Y.

2019 Mobile App Revenue

2019 was also another record year for first-time app installs, which reached a combined total of 114.9 billion across both platforms, a Y/Y increase of 9.1 percent from 105.3 billion in 2018. Photo & Video was the leading category for new non-game app installs on Apple's platform last year with 2.3 billion downloads, equaling its total for 2018. Tools category apps topped Google Play downloads with 5.7 billion, up about 6 percent from 5.4 billion a year prior.

2019 Mobile App Downloads

Growth of new app installs on Google Play, which totaled 84.3 billion, outpaced the App Store at 11.4 percent Y/Y compared to 3.4 percent on Apple's platform, which tallied 30.6 billion first-time app downloads. Google Play's total was 2.8 times that of the App Store, widening the lead it holds over its rival from 2.6 times greater in 2018.

Worldwide Mobile Game Revenue and Downloads

An estimated $61.7 billion was spent in mobile games across both stores last year, 12.8 percent more than 2018's total of $54.7 billion. This was 74 percent of all in-app spending for 2019, shrinking three percentage points from 77 percent of overall revenue a year prior. Mobile gaming's share of revenue across both stores stood at 82 percent in 2017, with its diminishing cut reflecting the strides made in the monetization of non-game apps, particularly through recurring subscriptions, over the past two years. Games represented 68 percent of iOS revenue and 84 percent of Google Play spending.

Spending in games on the App Store reached $37 billion last year, up 11.4 percent Y/Y from $33.2 billion. Honor of Kings from Tencent held onto its crown as the top grossing iOS title with an estimated $1.43 billion earned globally. Game spending on Google Play, which grew 15 percent Y/Y to $24.7 billion (from $21.5 billion) was led by Lineage M from NCSOFT which grossed close to $691 million globally.

2019 Mobile Game Revenue

First-time mobile game installs hit 42.1 billion globally last year, climbing 9.9 percent Y/Y and outpacing 2018's growth of 6.4 percent. Google Play accounted for 78 percent of all game downloads at 32.9 billion on 11.9 percent Y/Y growth, led by Garena Free Fire. App Store game installs grew 3.4 percent Y/Y to 9.2 billion, with Call of Duty: Mobile coming out on top.

2019 Mobile Game Downloads

These record revenue and install figures, both overall and for mobile games, reflect the continued health of the app market as a whole as we enter into 2020. Growth continues to be strong despite developed markets reaching peak mobile user saturation, thanks to equal measures of innovation and greater monetization of non-game apps.

Our analysis of the mobile app ecosystem in 2019 will continue soon with the full-year and Q4 edition of our free Data Digest market report, offering in-depth looks the year and quarter's top apps, games, and publishers along with their most important trends, stories, and more.

Follow us on Twitter @SensorTower to be notified of its release and receive regular updates from the most trusted source of mobile insights.

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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Randy Nelson

Written by: Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights

Date: January 2020