App Store subscriptions boom in 2020, dwarfing Google Play


App Store image
App Store continues to rake in money.
Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash CC

Subscription apps are thriving right now, and nowhere more so than on iOS. According to a new report from app analytics platform Sensor Tower, worldwide spending on the top 100 subscription apps on the App Store generated $10.3 billion in 2020.

That’s a massive 32% increase from the $7.8 billion spent in 2019. It’s also close to four times what Android apps in the Google Play store pulled in in 2020. (They earned just $2.7 billion.)

The report continues:

“Looking at the U.S. App Store, consumers spent $4.5 billion in 2020 on the top 100 earning non-game apps offering subscriptions, up 25 percent from approximately $3.6 billion in 2019. While the top 100 earning subscription apps on Google Play did not generate as much revenue, they did see greater Y/Y growth. In 2020, the top Google Play subscription apps in the U.S. saw $1.4 billion spent, up 40 percent Y/Y from $1 billion.”

2020: A boom in subscription apps

YouTube ranked as the year’s top subscription app. While most people wouldn’t necessarily think of YouTube as a subscription service in the same way they would, say, Netflix, this paid option has clearly been successful for YouTube parent company Alphabet. The paid version offers ad-free, offline viewing, with extra channels like YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Kids.

The App Store defied much of the rest of the economy last year, experiencing a boom during the pandemic. Users, stuck at home, suddenly found themselves with more time to spend using apps.

Things don’t look like they’ll slow down this year in terms of App Store growth. However, Apple’s App Store revenue will decline in many cases. The company recently cut its commission rate from 30% to 15% for the majority of developers.

This report pits Apple versus Google in terms of their respective app storefronts. In reality, though, things are a bit more complex than that. As Cult of Mac noted recently, Google is the No. 1 developer for the iOS App Store. That means that, to some extent, Google benefits from the App Store boom — even if that boom dwarfs how many subscription apps move through Google’s own store.

Source: Sensor Tower


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