Nowadays you can manage most of your work (and life!) from your smartphone – independent of location. Most people take advantage of that.

This is why developing mobile-first software has become crucial to a business’ bottom line. We already live in the days of mobile-first.

Mobile apps are taking over –  people spent more than 90% of their mobile time using applications. That’s what we ultimately found while gathering data across several statistics about the app industry.

Statistics about continuously growing app revenue easily prove this fact.

Research demonstrates responsive design is getting outdated. It offers poor user experience and often times pages get stuffed because of too much information for a mobile screen.

Meanwhile, looking at the mobile application markets, the number of app downloads amounted to the mind-blowing 194 billion, showing a 10% increase compared to the previous year. To top this off, these numbers are expected to continue growing in the future. This allows app publishers to reach unprecedented records in terms of revenue.

In this post, we’ll talk about the shifts in profit over time and the variety of app revenue sources available.

I am excited to walk you through the most important app revenue trends.

Let’s find out together how apps are changing the way people use smartphones.

App Revenue Stats for 2023:

Before diving deep into the statistics, let’s take a closer look at the most thrilling app revenue trends.

  • Users are spending $380 billion worldwide on in-app purchases.
  • There are more than five million apps out there.
  • App revenue statistics show that in 2020, the total ad revenue was $581.9 billion.
  • The prediction for the overall mobile app market is for continuous growth, reaching the staggering $935 billion in revenue in 2023.
  • Google Play generated $36.7 billion and the Apple App Store generated $31.8 billion in sales in Q1 2021.
  • Consumer spending on the App Store will reach nearly $200 billion by 2025.
  • One of the most common monetization models is through in-app purchases. An estimated 50% of non-game and 79% of game apps use it.
  • 98% of Google Play revenue comes from free apps.

Let me be your guide through the details of every app revenue stream out there. This way you’ll know why they are important and how to choose the one that works best for you.

Impressive App Revenue Statistics

App revenue stats in 2022 tell us there are in excess of five million apps out there, 96.4% of which are free of charge on the Google Play store. So, considering that the majority are free, how do apps actually make money? Advertising plays a big role, as well as in-app purchases. 

1. Users are spending $380 billion worldwide on in-app purchases.

(Source: ZDNET)

In-app purchase statistics for 2021 reveal that the amount customers are spending on in-app purchases around the globe is $380 billion. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the economy for mobile apps is doing really well at present.

2. There are in excess of five million apps out there.

(Source: Statista)

Ever wondered how many apps are there in the world? The most recent figure we could find was in excess of five million, which is the total number of apps currently available on various app stores, including Google Play, Windows, Apple, and Amazon.

3. The fitness app that generated the most revenue in 2020 is Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal generating $1,241,651

(Source: Statista)

The winner of the highest fitness app revenue goes to Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal which generates an impressive revenue of $1,241,651. This is according to up-to-date information provided by J Clement, a research expert covering e-commerce and the internet which was published on Statista.

Interesting fact: MyFitnessPal fell victim to one of the biggest data breaches in history, back in 2018.

4. The App Store generated $72.3 billion, and Google made around $38.6 billion in 2020.

(Source: Sensor Tower)

Apple’s revenue rose almost a third compared to the previous year. We can attribute this growth to the pandemic when people turned to apps for work and entertainment.

5. On the Play Store, almost 97% were freely available.

(Source: 42 Matters)

So, why is this so significant? Well, take a look at the figure above regarding the amount of revenue being generated by Google Play. It is $8.3 billion according to Google Play store statistics. In our opinion, this isn’t bad considering that this comes from only 3.6% of the total number of apps available!

The Top-Selling Apps of 2023

Here’s the list of the top-selling apps for this year.

AppOSPriceTotal downloads/sales
MinecraftAndroid, iOS, Windows Phone$6.9921+ million downloads
Hitman: SniperAndroid, iOS$0.9910+ million downloads
Fruit Ninja ClassicAndroid, iOS, Windows Phone, Symbian$0.991+ billion downloads
Grand Theft Auto IIIAndroid, iOS$4.991+ million downloads
True SkateiOS, Android$1.995+ million downloads
Poweramp Full Version UnlockerAndroid$4.995+ million downloads
Camera ZOOM FX PremiumAndroid$3.991+ million downloads
Beautiful Widgets ProAndroid$2.491+ million downloads
Cut the Rope GOLDiOS, Android$0.99960+ million downloads
Smart ToolsAndroid$2.991+ million downloads

Surprising or not, most are gaming apps. No wonder why more and more smartphone companies release phones focused on gaming.

App Revenue Statistics

The mobile app is a software application, developed to be used on mobile devices. When using a phone, tablet, or even a smart-watch, mobile apps are way faster and easy to use than regular websites. This is partly why they are becoming a major focus for software developers, allowing the market to constantly grow.

6. The applications market is growing. The mobile app revenue estimation is to reach $935 billion by 2023.

(Source: Statista)

  • There are about 2.9 million apps for Android users on the Google Play Store in 2021. On the other hand, the Apple App store has about 2.09 million apps.
  • The rising demand for applications over the years has led to a 31% year-on-year rise in global revenue in 2021.
  • As of Q1 2021, Google Play and App Store have made $36.7 billion and $31.8 billion, respectively. 
  • On the other hand, Google Play is actually expanding faster with 24% growth for Q3 2019 in the year-to-year reports. For comparison, Apple App Store revenue is 22.3% higher than the year before.

The two biggest mobile application distribution platforms deliver quite different results in terms of revenue and downloads. 

The total number of app downloads from the iOS App Store is 8 billion. This looks like a tiny fraction, compared to the impressive 21.6 billion downloads from the biggest Android app store.

7. Consumer spending on the App Store will reach nearly $200 billion by 2025.

(Source: Statista)

  • Consumer spending on the App Store grew by 38% since 2019. Statista estimates that figure will reach $185 billion by 2025. In comparison, the Google Play Store will reach $85 billion by the same year.
  • An estimated 5% of all users currently spend money on in-app purchases. Most of them are based in Asia, North America, and Europe.
  • App sales statistics show 48.2% of all mobile app earnings are thanks to In-app purchases. Paid app revenue comes second, with 37.8% of the total.
  • The global monthly in-app spend per user, per app, is $0.50.
  • The average in-app purchase per user is quite different for Android and iOS users. At an average, the prices are $0.47 cent for Android and $1 for iPhone owners.

Interesting fact – Google Play offers 37% more apps to its users than Apple’s App Store. Regardless of this fact, the app revenue statistics reveal the App Store’s income is greater.

8. Global app revenue will be around $935 billion by 2023.

(Source: Statista)

  • According to Statista, the earnings will come from in-app advertising and paid downloads.  The sector will experience over 50% growth compared to 2018.
  • In 2021, around 93% of the apps on the App Store were free. On the Play Store, about 96.7% were freely available.

Even if developers admit the in-app advertising monetization model is one of the most disliked by app users, it is also one of the most widely used revenue streams. It creates a large piece of the creator’s return.

9. 98% of Google Play revenue comes from “freemium” apps

(Source: The Verge)

Apps that charge for download (paid apps) are expected to decrease even more in the next few years.

The download numbers don’t always imply retention. Here’s an interesting fact – in 2019, a quarter of all downloaded apps have been used just once in the first six months of ownership. This is far from optimal in terms of app ad revenue.

10. There are around 400K low-quality apps in the market.

(App Brain)

The number of low-quality apps has slightly reduced from May 2020 to May 2021. These are applications that provide little to no value to users. Luckily, Google removes them from the Play Store every quarter.

Top Apps by Revenue

The average number of Android apps that developers published per day in February 2021 was 3142.86. That saw the mobile app market drop by half in production compared to 2018.

11. App Store app download grew by 2.5%, while Google’s increased by a whopping 30% in 2020. 

(Source: TechCrunch)

  • Mobile apps dominate over their web-based alternatives in terms of usage. In fact, users spend nearly 90% of their online time in apps.
  • Most of the growing apps are gaming apps, with just a few exceptions like Tinder – for dating and Bigo Live, which is a social app. Statistics anticipate the app revenue trends for 2020 aren’t any different.
  • Coinbase was the app that brought in the most revenue in April 2021, after making around $61 million. Following was Garena Free Fire – World Series with about $38.6 million, then PUBG Mobile – Karakin with $37.76 million.
  • When it comes to the highest-grossing gaming apps in Q1 of 2021, Honour of Kings was leading, followed by PUBG Mobile, then Uma Musume Pretty Derby.

Despite the fact game apps are most commonly created and on top spots in terms of revenue, only 65% of users say they have any games on their mobile devices. Preceding game apps, in terms of market reach, are communication and social, productivity and task management tools, as well as shopping and travel, among others.

This data clearly shows the supply of mobile game apps is not exactly in line with the demand.

12. The top app category, by consumer spending, worldwide is Games. Entertainment and Social networking are the following.

(Source: Business of Apps)

  • The most downloaded non-game publishers in the first month of 2021 were Google LLC (127 million), BabyBus (57 million), and Microsoft Corporation (44 million).
  • In the same period, mobile gaming app publishers with higher revenue worldwide are King, Supercell, and Bandai Namco. Each of them has gone over $40 million in revenue.
  • Netflix fell to second place last year. Another who lost its place in the year’s race is HBO Now, which enjoyed a high ranking in 2018 thanks to “Game of Thrones”. Still, those are only two of the best streaming services on the market, but many more are “fighting” to become #1. 

Paid apps are expected to go down in the next years, giving way to the in-app advertising revenue model. Another app revenue trend for the future is – а subscription model for non-game apps and in-app purchases for game apps.

Non-Game Apps Revenue Stats

Now: The majority of consumer spending on apps is going to gaming apps, through in-app purchases. However, in 2022 paid subscription as an app revenue stream is becoming more prevalent in non-game apps.

13. TikTok wins the race when it comes to non-game apps revenue.

(Source: SensorTower)

  • User spending for TikTok was $128 million in January 2021, which was thrice the income during the same month in 2020. Piccoma places second, with $96 million.
  • In 2020, users turned to in-app purchases for entertainmentlearning, and communication. The increase in demand led to a collective revenue of $111 billion.
  • After making $400 billion in H1 2019, Netflix decided to remove the option of subscription through app stores.
  • Companies like Epic, Netflix, and Spotify discontinued their subscription services from Google and Apple. The latter decided to lower its commissions by 50% in 2020, which attracted a lawsuit from Epic Games. 

The bottom line: 

The top revenue-driving non-game apps are from the Photo & Video category, followed by Entertainment. App Anie foresees these app revenue trends to stay around in the years to come. Video services like Netflix and Hulu already provide apps for their users. 

Mobile Games Statistics

Almost 25% of all available applications in Apple’s App Store are games. This makes games the largest category. It is indeed three times bigger than the Lifestyle category. Trailing closely is the Education category, which is third-highest in the ranking.

14. Just over 65% of all mobile users in the US have games on their smartphones.

(Source: Statista)

  • The most popular app category on Google Play is Gaming. It accounts for nearly 14% of all applications worldwide.
  • In 2020, China had the highest app revenue with $48 billion. The United States was in second place with $32 billion. Japan did well with $20 billion, and Europe followed with $14 billion. The rest of the world made about $29 billion.

The data clearly shows the enormous contrast between the relatively few successful games that drive the market – and the swarms of games that, well, don’t. 

On the other hand, 97.9% of users have a web browser and social media apps, and they have much fewer and overall more prominent options to pick from.

Mobile Games Revenue

The number of mobile games downloaded is at 38.3 billion. Interestingly enough, while more apps were downloaded from Google Play, 29.4 billion to be exact, Apple App Store still has higher revenue.

15. On Google Play 98% of all apps are available for free. A fourth of all are games. More than 79% of game developers prefer the in-app purchase and the in-app ad revenue model.

(Source: The Verge)

  • According to app revenue statistics, Candy Crush generated almost $1.2 billion in 2020.
  • Lion Studios is the leading game publisher in the US in 2021. It has over 8.4 million downloads.
  • In 2020, App Store made $7.7 billion in mobile gaming. That almost a billion more than the previous year.
  • Play Store made about $8.8 billion in mobile gaming apps in Q4 of 2020.
  • In the third quarter of 2019 Google Play gross revenue from mobile games is $7.7 billion, up from $6.2 billion during the same period last year.

Mobile gaming has become a massive industry, where developers of successful games generate millions in revenue. In November 2019, the extremely popular mobile version of Fortnite – a battle royale game, has produced over $387,000 on a daily basis.

Fortnite mobile had a huge success also in 2018 with $455 million gross revenue.

16. There were 88,500 new applications in February 2021 alone on Google Play Store.

(Source: Statista)

Play Store released 85,000 new apps in the second month of 2021. That was a significant drop compared to October 2020, when there were 130K new solutions in the apps industry.

App Monetization Options

There are many different ways to generate revenue from mobile apps, these days. Some of them include, but are not limited to:

 – integrating in-app ads and getting paid from ad networks

– offering consumable in-app products for purchasing

– requiring a paid subscription plan

– demanding per-device royalties

– charging a small amount per download

Mobile app industry analysis demonstrates some to be more effective than others.

17. In-app purchase is the most used revenue model used by developers. Estimations suggest 50% of non-game apps and an even higher 79% of game apps use in-app purchases alone, or as a part of their monetization stream mix.

(Source: Business of Apps)

  • In 2019 in-app advertising is the preferred monetization model. Even though only 14% of the mobile app revenue is coming from ad-based sources.
  • The monetization model bringing the biggest chunk of the revenue is in-app purchases. To be precise, this is the source of 48.2% of all revenue. Next comes the paid download model, which accounts for 37.8% of the gross income.

To Sum Up

There are many different app categories out there. These include games, dating apps, productivity and project management apps, lifestyle apps, and many more. Different categories often use a wildly different mix of strategies and monetization models. For this reason, their revenue differs greatly. 

The fact only 0.01% of all apps ever created actually become successful is not really promising. On the other hand, taking a look at the revenue top apps make every year makes you wonder if the challenge might be worth it.

As I said earlier, statistics show we are already living in the mobile-first times. Reviewing the estimation of downloaded apps worldwide every day and the revenue successful apps reach annually, we can surely state – the app market is growing and has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to keep growing. 

Now, if you have some inspiring app ideas – seize the moment and go get some work done. Future app revenue statistics can very well feature your own work. 

And don’t forget to have fun while doing it! 

See ya next time!

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