For the first time in history, consumers cumulatively spent more than $100B on mobile apps in 2020.

2 min readFeb 25, 2021


Global subscription app revenue from the top 100 subscription apps (excluding games), climbed 34% year-on-year to $13 billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2019.

The App Store continued to outpace the Play store in consumer spending:

$10.3 billion vs $2.7 billion, respectively. The former’s revenue grew by 32%, and the latter’s 42%.

This is despite the fact that Google Play downloads outnumbered App store downloads by ca. 160% in 2020. Games made up 45% of Google Play downloads, seeing a 5% bump from the year prior, but remained steady at 30% in the App Store.

Some larger apps have found a way to skirt around the respective app stores’ in-app purchase rules, which accounts for some of the flat growth in this space.

100 top subscription app revenue had a similar share of the spend in 2020 to that seen in 2019 ie. ~$111 billion.

Adoption of smartphone use in developing markets saw the sharpest rise, while adoption in highly-saturated markets saw less growth.

Nevertheless, mobile phone purchases accounted for 40% of US shoppers’ Black Friday spend, as well as 37% of their Cyber Monday expenditures, according to an Adobe report.

According to a Sensor Tower report, app downloads reached an unprecedented high of 2.8 million downloads on Black Friday.


The BUG has caused many global trends to accelerate. In mobile, this means increased overall adoption globally, with the highest growth seen in markets with relatively low adoption rates.

While global spending on non-game subscription apps, studies suggest a slowdown in this sector as markets reach saturation, and users in developing markets grow more accustomed to spending on mobile subscriptions. Once these users adopt mobile spending more broadly, this space may again see a significant rise in spending globally.

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By: Nick Lucek




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