US iPhone users spend a whopping $138 a year on apps


iPhone 12 Pro parts cost shockingly little
American iPhone users put down a surprising amount of money for apps in 2020.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The average U.S. iPhone user shelled out $138 for apps in 2020, according to a market research firm. That’s a 38% year-over-year increase.

As has held true for many years, mostly what people are buying is games.

App Store spending goes up and up

The average amount U.S. iPhone users spend in the App Store annually grows dramatically every year, according to data compiled by Sensor Tower. Back in 2015, the total was $33. But it grew a whopping 42% the next year, and keeps climbing. It hasn’t been below 23% in at least the last 5 years.

App Store spending goes up and up
U.S. iPhone annual App Store spending grows and grows 2015-to-2020
Photo: Sensor Tower

The total includes in-app purchases and premium apps. It doesn’t count items bought through e-commerce software like Amazon or ride-hailing apps.

And it’s not only U.S. iPhone users who are opening their wallets. Global spending on iOS and Android software hit $111 billion in 2020, up 30% from 2019.

And the trend continues. According to a new App Annie report, consumer spending on apps achieved a new record high in the first quarter of 2021.

Games and entertainment are what people want

Of course, millions of Americans spend a significant chunk of 2020 indoors trying to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them turned to their iPhone or iPad to pass the time. That helped power some of the increase in spending.

And it also shows in what they bought. Mostly games. “Per-device spending in mobile games saw explosive growth in 2020, leaping from $53.80 in 2019 to $76.80. This represents Y/Y growth of 43%,” noted Stephanie Chan with Sensor Tower. The top category’s were puzzle games and casino games.

With theaters shuttered during the pandemic, entertainment apps also generated plenty of revenue for the App Store. The annual average was $10.20, an increase of 26%.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.