Last year, iPhone users in the U.S. spent an average of $100 on in-app purchases and premium apps for the first time, according to data published Wednesday by app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
This figure was up $21 on the $79 average spent in 2018. It does not cover payments made using retail apps like Amazon, ride-sharing apps such as Uber, or any other payments that aren’t processed via Apple and the App Store.
Sensor Tower‘s data shows in-app spending grew 27% last year. That’s slightly down from the 36% it grew between 2017 and 2018. However, it’s still an impressive upward trend from the $33 average reported in 2015.
Mobile games represent around 54% of average spending per device, equivalent to $53.80. While it’s a much smaller figure, Photo & Video apps actually made the biggest year-on-year growth, increasing 75% from $3.60 in 2018 to $6.30 or 6.3% in 2019.
Lifestyle apps, which includes the likes of Tinder, also increased 46% from $3.90 in 2018 to $5.70 last year. Health & Fitness apps grew an average of 48% to an average of $4 per device. Sensor Tower places credit with the growth of meditation apps like Calm.
The report notes that the most popular money-generating strategy is subscription services. These provide recurring revenue for app-makers, rather than having to charge for incremental updates in the form of in-app purchases.
Average App Store spending on iPhone in 2019
The 2019 increase in average spending per iPhone in the App Store is good news for Apple. While the App Store reflects just one source of income for Apple, in the past few years it has represented an increasingly important one. iPhone unit sales peaked in 2015, after which the numbers have declined.
To continually top its record-breaking earnings, Apple has focused on finding ways to extract more money from a slightly smaller base of customers. The fact that these app spending numbers are going up suggests that strategy is working.
The 2020 figures are going to be particularly interesting to see. On the one hand, COVID-19-induced economic challenges could shrink the number of people buying iPhones and splashing their cash in the App Store.
On the other, the current lockdown situation may prompt more time spent in the App Store than ever. Which of these two forces will win out? We’ve probably got about a year to wait to find out!