Apple has long led its primary rival in the app economy in terms of monetization on its App Store, consistently generating close to twice as much revenue as Google Play from in-app purchases, subscriptions, and paid apps. As the latest Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data shows, this commanding lead also exists in another key area: How many new million-dollar publishers each store is minting annually. According to our new findings, 164 publishers earned their first $1 million in net revenue on the U.S. App Store so far this year, nearly double the 88 that did the same on Google Play.
The number of publishers with their first $1 million or greater year on the U.S. App Store grew by approximately 15 percent over 2017, when we found that 143 achieved this milestone. Google Play increased its number of new million-dollar publishers by 24 percent year-over-year, surpassing Apple's platform in this regard despite trailing it in sheer numbers.
Taking a closer look at the data, we can see a sharp contrast between where the new million-dollar publishers on each store for this year have found their success—and how this has shifted over time. The charts below break down how the category focus of these publishers stood in 2018.
It's not surprising that 54 of the 164 new million-dollar-plus publishers on the U.S. App Store—about 33 percent—were focused on the Games category, given that it has contributed roughly 60 percent of all revenue on the platform so far this year. Newcomer FoxNext Games, publisher of Marvel Strike Force, led this category netting more than $15 million so far in 2018.
What did stand out, however, is that the percentage of new Games category publishers on iOS declined by 10 percent from 2017 and shifted to other categories, including Lifestyle and Health & Fitness, which grew their numbers from 5 and 6 percent to 10 and 12 percent of the total, respectively, from last year. Examples of publishers reaching or exceeding the million-dollar revenue milestone for the first time this year in these categories included OMG I Can Meditate (Breethe), Bending Spoons (30 Day Fitness Challenge), and Genesis Technology Partners (BetterMe).
On U.S. Google Play, where the Games category contributes about 84 percent of all consumer spending, the focus on this category by 2018's new million-dollar or greater publishers was proportionally pronounced at 57 out of 88, or 65 percent. No other single category represented more than a single-digit percentage of publishers from the overall group, with Social being the largest at 6 percent.
Games category focused publishers accounted for 66 percent of those who made their first $1 million or more on U.S. Google Play in 2017, with the remaining categories also seeing their representation similarly unchanged in any significant way year-over-year.
Based on these findings, Apple appears set to control its standing as the most lucrative platform for mobile developers in 2019. We'll have more analysis of both stores and their performance in 2018 in the coming weeks.