45 App Revenue Statistics – Mobile Is Changing the Game

by Terry Stancheva | February 1, 2020

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Research demonstrates responsive design is getting outdated.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 in 2018 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. 

Jaw-dropping app revenue stats:

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


  • Mobile users worldwide have downloaded 120 billion (no updates and re-installs included) apps in 2019.
  • Specialists estimate consumers have spent about $120 billion on apps in 2019.
  • In 2020, app revenue statistics are projecting profit of $188.9 billion via app stores and in-app advertising. This would be a more than 200% increase in the last four years.
  • The prediction for the overall mobile app market is for continuous growth, reaching the staggering $935 billion in revenue in 2023.
  • Global mobile app revenue in 2018 reached $365 billion, which is a 28% increase in the year-to-year reports.
  • While in 2015 mobile app store revenue was just over $29 billion, in 2019 it more than doubled – $71.3 billion worldwide.
  • 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.
  • Out of all apps, consumers spent most on Tinder during 2019.

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.

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.

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

(Source: Statista)

  • In the third quarter of 2019, Android users have 2.47 million apps to choose from Google Play store, while Apple App Store is the second-largest app store offering 1.8 million iOS apps.
  • Due to the increased App popularity in the last years, the global app revenue has grown with 75% from 2016.
  • The first place in higher mobile app revenue is for Apple App Store, which generated $14.2 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2019, from $11.6 for the same period last year. Meanwhile, Google Play came to $7.7 billion for Q3 2019 – $1.5 billion more than the $6.2 billion in Q3 2018.  
  • 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 at 8 billion. This looks like a tiny fraction, compared to the impressive 21.6 billion downloads from the biggest android app store.

2. The evaluation of mobile app consumer gross spending is to exceed $120 billion before 2020.

(Source: Statista)

  • The amount consumers spent on mobile apps in 2017 was $82.1 billion. This marks more than 36% growth in less than three years.
  • 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.

3. The app industry is projected to reach $188.9 billion in revenue in 2020. This is more than a 200% increase, compared to 2016.

(Source: Statista)

  • The app-store revenue estimation of $71.7 billion for 2020 is almost double the $36.2 billion in 2016.
  • As for the in-app advertising revenue expectation, the numbers are way higher, setting at $117.1 billion in 2020.
  • As of December 2019, 96.2% of Google Play apps are free. For the same measured period, the freely available apps in Apple’s App Store are 90.8%.

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.

4. In 2018 the mobile app market revenue worldwide reached $365 billion. This is a 28% increase, compared to the previous year.

(Source: Statista)

  • • In September 2019 there are 2.8 million apps on Google play. Most of them are available for free.

• In 2018, there were 194 billion app downloads, up from 178 billion in 2017.

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

Top apps by revenue

The mobile app market is growing every year. At the beginning of 2018, the number of android apps released daily comes at 6,140. Despite this fact, the top-grossing apps rarely change.

5. In 2019 the downloads count of mobile apps has grown with 5%, compared to 2018. The figure of 120 billion is impressive since it doesn’t even include updates and re-installation of apps.

(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.
  • According to statistics, the top Android app in terms of revenue for November 2019 was Coin Master. It amassed $42.34 million in revenue, followed by Candy Crush and PUBG mobile with $38.94 and $30.11 million in profit respectively.
  • According to AppAnie, the top-grossing app for December 2019 in iOS store is Roblox, followed by Fortnite and YouTube.

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.

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

(Source: Business of Apps)

  • At the beginning of 2019 Google, Tinder, and Pandora are the leading non-gaming app publishers in terms of revenue.
  • 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 this 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”.

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

Now: The majority of consumer spending on apps is going to gaming apps, through in-app purchases. However, in 2019 paid subscription as an app revenue stream is becoming more prevalent in non-game apps.

7. Tinder is maintaining the lead in terms of app revenue in Q3 2019.

(Source: SensorTower)

  • The leading non-game app publisher in Google Play Store, ranked by gross apps profit, remains Google LLC. In June 2019 its revenue reached $24.15 million. Right after Google comes Tinder with $21.37 million.
  • For both iOS App Store and Google Play combined, Non-game apps revenue has grown from $3.7 billion in 2013 to $19.7 billion in 2018.
  • After making $400 billion in H1 2019, Netflix decided to remove the option of subscription through app stores.
  • In September 2019, 95% of the top 100 non-game apps by consumer spend are offering subscriptions as a revenue model.

The bottom line: 

The top revenue-driving non-game apps in 2019 are from the Photo & Video category, followed by Entertainment. App Anie foresees these app revenue trends to stay around in 2020. Video services like Netflix and Hulu already provide apps for their users. We are expecting the launch of more big-name video services, like HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock, during 2020, which further confirms this trend.

Mobile game-apps 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.

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

(Source: Statista)

  • In November 2019, 22.37% of all mobile apps were games, making it the biggest category. This was more than twice as much as the business apps – 10.12%
  • The continent accountable for 41% of all mobile games revenue in 2018 is Asia. The second biggest chunk is coming from North America, which only drives 9.8% of the market.

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 in 2019 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.

9. 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)

  • The daily revenue of Candy Crush Saga, as of November 2019 is stretching to the astonishing $1,641,355.
  • In January 2019, King is leading the category of mobile gaming app publishers. From their android games downloads online they generated roughly $94 million.
  • The mobile games’ revenue for the Apple App Store, reached $33.2 billion in 2018.
  • During the same year, Google Play recorded $21.5 billion in revenue from mobile games, which is a 24% increase, compared to the $17.3 billion in 2017.
  • 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.

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.

 10. 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!

 

    1. Statista
    2. Statista
    3. Statista
    4. Statista
    5. TechCrunch
    6. Business of Apps
    7. SensorTower
    8. Statista
    9. The Verge
    10. Business of Apps
ABOUT AUTHOR
Terry Stancheva
Terry Stancheva