Mobiles & Tablets

Worldwide consumer spending on mobile apps grew nearly 20% YoY to reach $133 billion in 2021: Report

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 12, 2021
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The App Store witnessed about 1.8 times the revenue as Google’s marketplace.

Worldwide consumer spending on in-app purchases, premium apps, and subscriptions across the App Store and Google Play is forecasted to reach approximately $133 billion, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data.

The adoption and spending for both mobile games and non-game apps saw a significant rise in 2020. However, market trends began normalising in 2021.

Global consumer spending on mobile app is expected to grow 19.7 per cent year-over-year from $111.1 billion in 2020, nearly mirroring the 21 per cent YoY growth consumer spending experienced in 2019.

Globally, consumer spending on the App Store will reach $85.1 billion, up 17.7 per cent YoY from $72.3 billion in 2021, as per the report. Spending on Google Play is expected to see higher YoY growth, climbing 23.5 per cent to $47.9 billion from $38.8 billion, though users have spent less on the Store.

The two platforms’ spending relative to each other remained the same as in 2020. The App Store witnessed about 1.8 times the revenue as Google’s marketplace.

TikTok, including Douyin on iOS in China is expected to remain in the lead as the non-gaming app recording the highest revenue across both app stores combined.

The ByteDance-owned short video platform surpassed $3 billion in lifetime revenue earlier this year—in the first 11 months of 2021, the app recorded $2 billion in revenue, up 67 per cent YoY from $1.2 billion. By the end of the year, Sensor Tower forecasts that the app will record $2.3 billion in spending, bringing its lifetime total to $3.8 billion.

"Although TikTok was the highest earning non-game app when looking at both app stores together, it trails behind Google Play when that platform was studied on its own," Sensor Tower said.

Google One continued to see the most revenue in 2021 on Android devices. By the end of 2021, the app will reach $1 billion in consumer spending, up 123 per cent YoY from $448.5 million in 2020.

First-time downloads remained relatively flat when compared to 2020, growing 0.5 per cent YoY across the App Store and Google Play to 143.6 billion in 2021 from 142.9 billion in 2020, driven primarily by app adoption on Google Play, which will see installs climb 2.6 per cent YoY to 111.3 billion from 108.5 billion. Apple’s App Store will generate around 32.3 billion installs this year, down 6.1 per cent from 34.4 billion.

TikTok was also the most downloaded app on the App Store for 2021, garnering 745.9 million installs across both app stores, despite a dip of 24 per cent YoY from 980.7 million installs in 2020, "demonstrating the app’s global popularity even as it was removed from its top market India," the report said.

On Google Play, Facebook topped the charts with about 500.9 million installs on that marketplace alone. Across both marketplaces, the app will record about 624.9 million installs, down 12 per cent YoY from 707.8 million.

Mobile games

Consumer spending on mobile games is also on the rise in 2021, and is expected to reach $89.6 billion from across the App Store and Google Play, representing a 12.6 per cent YoY growth from $79.6 billion in 2020 and also 67.4 per cent of all in-app spending this year.

"While the category is still climbing annually, its share of overall consumer spending has declined," as per the report.

In 2019, mobile games accounted for 74.1 per cent of all app spending. Its share declined over 2 per centage points in 2020 to 71.7 per cent, and in 2021, its share is expected to fall approximately 6.7 per centage points from 2019’s figure.

"This points to the persistent growth of non-game categories such as Entertainment, which received a large boost from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic," as per the report.

However, mobile games still account for the majority of spending on each marketplace, representing 61.5 per cent of iOS revenue and 78 per cent of revenue on Google Play.

On the App Store, gamers are projected to spend $52.3 billion globally by the end of the year, up 9.9 per cent YoY from $47.6 billion in 2020.

Honor of Kings from Tencent was the highest grossing iOS game, generating $2.9 billion on that platform, up 16 per cent YoY from $2.5 billion. The title recently passed the $10 billion milestone earlier in 2021.

Games on Google Play will record $37.3 billion in global consumer spending in 2021, up 16.6 per cent YoY from $32 billion in the previous year. Moon Active’s Coin Master was once again the highest grossing title on Google Play which recorded a revenue increase of 13 per cent YoY to nearly $912 million from 2020’s total of $809.8 million on that marketplace.

First-time installs of mobile games will reach 55.3 billion in 2021 across the App Store and Google Play, Sensor Tower projected. This is a decline of 1.6 per cent YoY from 56.2 billion in 2020.

"This slight dip is expected, however, following the unprecedented surge in adoption seen in 2020 due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic," as per the report.

Nearly 84 per cent of all game downloads or 46.7 billion were on Google Play, up 1.3 per cent YoY. On Google’s platform, Garena Free Fire will record the highest number of downloads, reaching 218.8 million installs on that platform, down 14 per cent YoY.

The App Store recorded approximately 8.6 billion downloads of mobile game in 2021, down 14.9 per cent YoY.

Tencent will also take the top spot with PUBG Mobile, including the Chinese localised version of Game for Peace. The title is expected to reach around 47.5 million installs on the App Store by the end 2021, an 18.5 per cent decline from 58.3 million.

Published on December 12, 2021

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