Sensor Tower: iOS Users Spent $10.3 billion on Top 100 Subscription Apps in 2020, Up 32% Year-on-Year

Consumer spending on the top 100 non-game subscription-based apps across mobile platforms grew 34% year-on-year from $9.7 billion in 2019 to $13 billion in 2020, according to a new report by analytics firm Sensor Tower.

subscription app worldwide 2020 spending
According to the data, revenue from subscription apps purchased on the App Store and the Google Play Store represented around 11.7% of the $111 billion that consumers spent on in-app purchases last year, the same share as in 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2020, however, 86 of the top 100 earning non-game apps worldwide offered subscriptions, which is actually down slightly from 89 in the same quarter of 2019.

Reflecting a wider historical trend, spending on subscription-based apps in Apple's ‌App Store‌ was vastly more than in the Google Play Store:

Consumers have historically spent more on the ‌App Store‌ than on Google's marketplace, and the same holds true for subscription apps. Globally, the top 100 subscription apps on the ‌App Store‌ generated $10.3 billion in 2020, up 32 percent from $7.8 billion the previous year. The cohort of 100 top earners on Google Play saw $2.7 billion last year, up 42 percent Y/Y from $1.9 billion in 2019.

The only performance indicator in which the Google Play Store beat the ‌App Store‌ was in terms of year-on-year growth for U.S. user spending on subscription apps.

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.

top grossing subscription apps us 2020
Google was the big winner this year in terms of subscription app spending, both globally and in the U.S. YouTube was the subscription app leader across both stores, earning $991.7 million in gross revenue globally and $562 million in the U.S. It was also the top earning subscription app on the ‌App Store‌.

Despite the numbers, the subscription apps generally divide ‌App Store‌ users between those for and against the revenue model. Apple began incentivizing developers to sell their apps for a recurring fee instead of a one-time cost when it made changes to its ‌‌App Store‌‌ subscription policies in 2016. Usually, Apple takes 30 percent of app revenue, but developers who are able to maintain a subscription with a customer longer than a year see Apple's cut drop down to 15 percent.

In late 2017, Apple began letting developers offer discounted introductory pricing and time-limited free trials on auto-renewable app subscriptions, based on the idea that subscriptions provide a higher likelihood of an engaged audience.

Top Rated Comments

jlc1978 Avatar
12 weeks ago

The data doesn’t lie, iPhone users are a bunch of horny buggers. ?

Or simply more attractive than Androiud users...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sinoka56 Avatar
12 weeks ago

Or simply more attractive than Androiud users...
Attractive people wouldn't need to pay for Tinder to get boosted ;)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LFC2020 Avatar
12 weeks ago
The data doesn’t lie, iPhone users are a bunch of horny buggers. ?


Attachment Image
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jlc1978 Avatar
12 weeks ago

Pretty crazy when you think of it. Android has a huge market share, but iOS payments appear to be nearly 4x that of the Play store. No wonder most Android apps are utter garbage - the money's in the other platform.
Exactly.

These results show how much value Apple brings to the table in return for the cut it takes. Apple's customer base brings in nearly 5x the revenue as Google's, which means for what is probably the same amount of development effort the upside for iOS is significantly higher.

That's why I think the whole "Apple's fee is too high" argument isn't valid since Apple offers access to a much more lucrative customer base than Google, even if Android has a larger market share. Companies may whine about Apple's cut because they want that for themselves (especially since Apple's cut is about the total for Google Play) but will not walk away because that's where they make the most money.


To put the fairness argument in another light, companies should cut the subscription fees significantly for iOS because they make a lot more from them for the same costs of development, and thus their margins are "unfair." I doubt any would agree with that yet that is essentially a main part of the argument they make against Apple's fees. It's not about fairness but about money.


The non existence of piracy on iOS is a consequence of only having one way to download apps.
Which, of course is a good thing for developrs as well as customers.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
EmotionalSnow Avatar
12 weeks ago

Pretty crazy when you think of it. Android has a huge market share, but iOS payments appear to be nearly 4x that of the Play store. No wonder most Android apps are utter garbage - the money's in the other platform.

Mind you, piracy is rampant on Android...
The non existence of piracy on iOS is a consequence of only having one way to download apps.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ilikewhey Avatar
12 weeks ago
thats astonishing consider android dominates the market by a wide margin.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier in 'Coming Weeks'

Saturday May 1, 2021 3:57 am PDT by
Citing sources within the music industry, Hits Double Daily reports that Apple is preparing to launch a new HiFi Apple Music tier in the "coming weeks," which will come alongside the release of the rumored third-generation AirPods. According to the report, the new tier, which will offer high-fidelity music streaming, will cost the same $9.99 monthly subscription as the current individual...
Top Stories 58 Feature 1

Top Stories: iOS 14.5 Released, AirTag Launch, New iMac and iPad Pro Pre-Orders

Saturday May 1, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
After nearly three months of beta testing, Apple this week finally released iOS 14.5, the company's biggest update since the iOS 14 launch last September. One of the main new features included in the update is support for AirTags, Apple's item trackers that also finally became available this week some two years after their existence first leaked. Apple this week also began taking orders for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
apple music album cover art

iOS 14.6 Beta 1 Code Hints at Upcoming HiFi Apple Music Support

Saturday May 1, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple is laying the groundwork for adding HiFi support to Apple Music which would offer Apple Music subscribers and owners of compatible devices, such as certain models of AirPods, access to high-fidelity audio streaming, according to code within the iOS 14.6 beta discovered by MacRumors. Earlier today, a report claimed that Apple will announce a new $9.99 per month Apple Music tier that...