Last Updated on January 21, 2022

The mobile app industry is growing by leaps and bounds, generating billions of dollars in revenue. And this is primarily because people spend more than 90% of their mobile time using different applications. 

From shopping, gaming, dating, and even banking, nowadays there is an app for everything. Looking at the mobile app download statistics, the number of mobile app downloads reached 218 billion by the end of last year. And thus, it comes as no surprise that app publishers are making extraordinary records in terms of revenue. 

Statistic: Number of mobile app downloads worldwide from 2016 to 2020 (in billions) | Statista

Source: Statista

Mobile App Revenue – iOS and Android (Broad Overview)

Although iOS has a smaller market share in comparison to Android, the former has led the way in revenue generation for app publishers. The main reason for this is that iPhone is widely popular and prevalent in high-income regions like North America, the UK, and Japan. Several pieces of research have indicated that people in these regions spend more on apps. 

Also, there are various app categories and genres on the App Store that drives consumer spending. However, gaming stands out as the biggest source of app revenue for Apple’s App Store

Talking about Google Play Store, the largest markets for this app store include India, South America, and Southeast Asia. All these regions typically generate less revenue per user. Also, the majority of the apps on the Play Store are free. The platform generates maximum revenue from games and in-app payments.

The Google Play Store is banned in China. But several third-party Android app stores operate in the country, amassing approximately $8 billion in revenue each year. 

Mobile App Revenue- Key Statistics

Before diving into the chief revenue statistics for each app store, let us look at some of the most enticing trends witnessed in the past few years. 

  • There are over 5 million apps available on different app stores. 
  • Most users have more than 10 apps installed on their smartphones. 
  • The total user spending on in-app purchases worldwide has exceeded $380 billion
  • The mobile app market is continuously growing. It is anticipated to reach a whopping $935 billion in revenue by 2023. 
  • iOS and Android app revenue reached $111 billion in 2020, marking a 24% y-o-y increase.
  • Games accounted for 71% of the total mobile app revenue in 2020. Google Play made $31.9 billion whereas iOS generated $47.6 billion in revenue. 
  • Total user spending on the App Store is expected to reach nearly $200 billion by 2025. 
  • One of the widely popular monetization techniques is in-app purchases. Approximately, 71% of all gaming apps and 50% of non-gaming apps use this model. 

App Revenues- iOS and Google Play

Mobile apps have become an indispensable part of everyone’s life. The annual mobile app revenues have climbed up steadily from 2016 to 2020. It has seen remarkable growth, from $43.5 billion in 2016 to $111 billion last year. Also, the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay indoors that gave worldwide mobile app revenue a huge boost. 

Moving on, the primary monetization models in Android and iOS include in-app purchases, subscriptions, advertising, and app purchases. 

Annual iOS App Revenue

As stated above, Apple’s App Store conquers only 15% of the worldwide market share. Yet, the platform continues to outshine all other app stores in revenue generation. 

  • The annual iOS app revenue has jumped from $28.6 billion in 2016 to $72.3 billion in 2020. 
  • In 2020, users spent approximately 72 billion USD on subscriptions, in-app purchases, and premium apps in Apple’s App Store. 
  • The most popular App Store categories are gaming, business, entertainment, education, and lifestyle. 
  • 70% of all App Store revenue comes from gaming apps. And this 70% is generated by as little as 10% of all platform users. 

Statistic: Worldwide gross app revenue of the Apple App Store from 2017 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
Source: Statista

Annual Google Play App Revenue

Google Play is most prevalent in developing countries. And this is why the average revenue per user is low. However, in the past 4 years, it has witnessed a 167% increase in revenue, quickly trying to crush the gap between Apple and Google. 

  • The annual Google Play Store app revenue has jumped from $15 billion in 2016 to $38.6 billion in 2020. 
  • In 2020, Google Play generated gross revenue of approximately 40 billion USD through mobile apps. 
  • The average global consumer spending increased 25% as compared to last year. 
  • The most popular Google Play Store category is gaming, which is quickly followed up by tools and entertainment. Also, last year, gaming apps alone accounted for roughly 10 billion downloads. 
Worldwide gross app revenue of Google Play from 2016 to 2020
Source: Statista

Gaming Apps Revenue

Gaming apps continue to remain the greatest source of revenue for both iOS and Android. It is anticipated that mobile gaming app revenues worldwide will jump from $90.7 billion in 2020 to $116.4 billion in 2024. 

Games have a plethora of avenues for revenue generation. For instance, these apps offer no-ad experiences, pro versions, in-game rewards, gifts, etc. to the users in exchange for a specific amount of fee. 

Let us look at some of the top-grossing mobile games and their genres. 

Game Revenue Genre/ Type
Honor of Kings$11,705,500,000MOBA
Pokémon Go$7,252,000,000Augmented Reality 
Clash of Clans$7,700,000,000Strategy
Candy Crush Saga$6,400,000,000Puzzle 
PUBG Mobile$6,200,000,000Battle Royale
Lineage M$3,500,000,000MMORPG
Dragon Ball Z$3,000,000,000Puzzle/ RPG
Coin Master$2,000,000,000Casino

Annual iOS Gaming App Revenue

The iOS App Store beats Google Play when it comes to revenue generation through mobile games. Let’s look at the key mobile app statistics.

  • The annual iOS gaming app revenue has jumped from $23.4 billion in 2016 to $47.6 billion in 2020. 
  • As of July 2021, Uma Musume Pretty Derby was recognized as the top-grossing iOS gaming app worldwide. It is a manga-based game that recorded over 30.98 million USD in revenue from iPhone users. 
  • Next on the list is Pokémon GO. The game became the second-highest-grossing app with 29.18 million USD in revenue.
Leading iPhone apps in the Apple App Store worldwide in July 2021, by revenue
Source: Statista

Annual Google Play Gaming App Revenue

We know that Android captures a greater market share. Despite that, it has been unable to replicate the amount of revenue generation done by iOS. 

  • The annual Google Play gaming app revenue has jumped from $14.3 billion in 2016 to $31.9 billion in 2020. 
  • As of July 2021, Candy Crush Saga was recognized as the top-grossing Android gaming app worldwide. The game recorded over 50.89 million USD in revenue from Android users. 
  • Next on the list is Coin Master. The game became the second-highest-grossing app with 50.32 million USD in revenue. 
Statistic: Leading Android apps in the Google Play Store worldwide in July 2021, by revenue (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista

Source: Statista

Non-Gaming Apps Revenue

Non-gaming apps do not fare as well as gaming apps. However, they are still able to gather a decent amount of revenue.  In fact, the annual non-gaming app revenue jumped from $5.5 billion in 2016 to $32.1 billion in 2020. This is a significant jump that shows the immense potential of such games. 

The top revenue-generating non-game apps belong to the Photo & Video and Entertainment category. 

Annual iOS Non-Gaming Apps Revenue

  • The annual iOS non-gaming app revenue has jumped from $4.8 billion in 2016 to $24.7 billion in 2020. 
  • A large chunk of non-gaming iOS apps run primarily on subscriptions. And these apps have their main customer base in the United States. 
  • For instance, apps like Pandora, Tinder, Strava, Hulu, etc. have more than 50% of their customer base in the US.

Annual Google Play Non-Gaming Apps Revenue

When it comes to non-gaming apps revenue, Apple is way ahead of Android. And this is primarily because the former targets high-income groups. Because Google Play is more prevalent among lower-income groups, it becomes hard for the platform to appeal to customers who may have seldom subscribed to anything over mobile. 

  • The annual Google Play non-gaming app revenue has jumped from $0.7 billion in 2016 to $6.7 billion in 2020. 
  • As of July 2021, Niantic was recognized as the top non-gaming app publisher on the platform. It generated roughly 73.8 million USD. 
  • The second highest-grossing app was Google LLC that generated 47.91 million USD through Google Play alone.
Leading non-gaming app publishers in the Google Play Store worldwide in July 2021, by revenue
Source: Statista

Top Apps by Revenue

App Store app download surged by 2.5% in 2020 while Google’s Play Store surged by a whopping 30%

  • Most apps that generated huge sums of revenue belong to the gaming category. However, there are a few exceptions, such as Tinder and Bigo Live, a social app. 
  • As of April 2021, one app that generated maximum revenue was Coinbase, making approximately $61 million. Other apps following suit include Garena Free Fire –World Series with $38.6 million and PUBG Mobile with $37.76 million
  • In terms of gaming apps, the top-grossing app in the first quarter of 2021 is Honour of Kings, followed by PUBG Mobile and Uma Musume Pretty Derby. 

Conclusion

When it comes to mobile apps, there are many different app categories available out there. Different categories leverage different app monetization models and strategies and thus, generate different amounts of revenue. 

But the aforementioned statistics show that mobile apps hold immense potential nowadays. A close evaluation of the number of downloaded apps worldwide and the revenue that successful apps reach annually only point towards one thing- the app market is growing monumentally. 

So, if you have any innovative app idea, you must get in touch with a reputed mobile app development company and discuss it further. 

Author

CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.