Worldwide consumer expenditure in mobile apps reached new highs yet again in 2021, and Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals that mobile users are spending more than ever in subscription apps.
As in previous years, consumers spent more on subscription-based apps downloads from the Apple App Store than on Google Play. The top 100 non-game subscription apps on the App Store generated $13.5 billion in 2021, up 31% year-over-year from $10.3 billion. Worldwide consumers spent $4.8 billion on the top 100 subscription apps on Google’s marketplace, up 78% from $2.7 billion in 2020.
Sensor Tower says that while the top subscription apps on Google Play experienced more growth, the top apps on the Apple App Store saw nearly three times as much spending last year. Consumer spending in the U.S. saw a similar breakdown, with the top 100 subscription apps generating $6 billion on the Apple App Store, up 33% year-over-year rom $4.5 billion. The cohort saw approximately $2.5 billion in consumer spending on Google Play, up 79% from $1.4 billion in 2020.
According to Sensor Tower, the top 100 non-game subscription-based apps saw their revenue grow 41% year-over-year from $13 billion to $18.3 billion globally. This was 7 percentage points greater than in 2020, when spending in these apps climbed 34% year-over-year from $9.7 billion in 2019.
Revenue from the top 100 earning non-game subscription apps represented about 14% of the $131.6 billion that consumers spent on in-app purchases last year in both non-game apps and mobile games. This was up from when the cohort represented about 11.7 percent of total spending in 2020. In quarter four (Q4) of 2021, 86 of the top 100 earning non-game apps worldwide offered subscriptions, down slightly from 87 in Q4 2020 and 89 in Q4 2019.
According to Sensor Tower, the growth of subscription app revenue in the United States mirrored the global trend as its consumers spent $8.5 billion in the top 100 non-game mobile apps offering subscriptions in 2021. This was up 44 % year-over-year from $5.9 billion in 2020, which had grown 28% year-over-year from $4.6 billion in 2019.
U.S. consumers spent $40.7 billion on in-app purchases in 2021, about 21% of which were in the top subscription apps. This was up more than 3 percentage points from 2020 when the top subscription apps generated $5.9 billion or about 17.9% of the $33 billion overall spend.
In Q4 2021, 90 out of the top 100 earning apps in the U.S. included subscriptions. This was down slightly from 91 in Q4 2020 and 93 in Q4 2019.