Shattering the Ceiling: Global Consumer Spending In Mobile Apps Crosses the $100 Billion Mark In 2020

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Like a high jumper trying to better his mark, 2020 has been a year that has constantly raised the bar. It has been a year that has left its mark everywhere, giving us some incredible stats to ponder. The app world was clearly no stranger, as is proved by a compilation of some gobsmacking numbers.

Going by the report released by leading app analytics platform Sensor Tower, the app world was a hotbed of activity in 2020. Interestingly, the consumers spent an unprecedented $111 billion on in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps across the two foremost app stores – Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store!

Collectively speaking, with an increasing number of people turning to the centrepiece that mobile devices have become, (more so, due to the pandemic) various offers, subscriptions, availability of premium apps across the marketplaces certainly played their part in in-app consumer spending soaring to such heights.


Before going into the nitty-gritty, let us crunch some numbers to learn how this feat stacks up with the previous years.

The global consumer spending in mobile apps grew an impressive 30.2% YoY in 2020, from the $85.2 billion in 2019. The contribution of both the app platforms to the stellar growth has been pretty even here. With the spending gap between the two platforms remaining quite flat as compared to the previous year, both platforms experienced relatively the same YoY growth this year. Consumer spending on the App Store accounted for $72.3 billion, experiencing a 30.3% YoY jump. While Google Play Sore collected $38.6 billion with a YoY jump of over 30%.

Let us delve some deeper to understand the full scope of the surge in its totality.

Consumer Spending On Non-Game Apps

When we zero in on the drivers behind the mind-boggling numbers, the Entertainment and Social categories jump out in front for the App Store and Google Play, respectively. As it goes, the Entertainment app attracted users’ spending the most on the App Store, growing steadily at 29.3% YoY to $5.3 billion. On Google Play, apps in Social category gathered $1.2 billion last year, with a strong 71.4% YoY growth.

In terms of non-game apps that generated the most revenue in 2020 – TikTok, including Douyin on iOS in China and Google One on the android platform were the star performers, generating $1.2 billion and $444 million in revenue, respectively.


First-time installs flew high too, setting a new record by reached nearly 143 billion across both platforms. With 212.5 million installs, Zoom had the highest number of first-time installs on the App Store in 2020, whereas WhatsApp managed to reach more than 598 million installs on the Play Store.

The Gaming Goldmine

The pandemic induced year clearly created the perfect storm for the gaming sector to flourish. The global consumer spending on mobile games grew an impressive 26% YoY in 2020, to a record-high of $79.5 billion across both app stores. The category scaled newfound zeniths, where no less than 5 mobile games made more than $1 billion in 2020.

When it comes to the highest grossers, Tencent’s Honor of Kings peaked high on App Store, generating $2.5 billion in 2020. On the other hand, Moon Active’s Coin Master saw its revenue increase a whopping 122% YoY to $799 million!

When glancing across both app platforms for numbers in the Gaming sector, users spent $47.6 billion globally on the App Store, while games on Google Play accumulated $31.9 billion in worldwide consumer spending in 2020. Stats aplenty, the most telling fact is this – the gaming sector accounted for a staggering 71.7% of all in-app spending for 2020!

While the positive impact on the Gaming category was one of the possible silver linings in the pandemic laden year, the burgeoning growth may have created a huge shift in consumer needs and behaviours in the years to come. Going forward, it will certainly be intriguing to see what new trends emerge or old ones solidify. Whatever happens, records will only keep tumbling from hereon.

Stay tuned for more such updates and analysis.


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