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2019: App Store subscription spending outstrips Google Play by $2.5 billion

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Sensor Tower data has revealed that App Store subscription spending outstripped Google Play by $2.5 billion in 2019.
  • App Store users spent a whopping $3.6 billion on the top 100 US subscription apps.
  • In comparison, Google Play users spent just over $1 billion, but both enjoyed significant growth.

Sensor Tower data has revealed that App Store subscription spending in the US outstripped Google Play by a whopping $2.5 billion, as overall revenue grew 21% to $4.6 billion.

According to the report:

Consumers in the United States spent more than $4.6 billion in the top 100 non-game mobile apps offering subscriptions during 2019, new research based on Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data shows. This figure represents 21 percent year-over-year growth from the $3.8 billion generated by the top 100 subscription apps in the U.S. during 2018. Our research found that revenue generated by these apps in 2019 accounted for 19 percent of the $24 billion accumulated through user spending for the entire U.S mobile market, which includes the App Store and Google Play. Of the 100 highest grossing non-game apps across both stores last year, we found that 96 offered subscription options.

In terms of store breakdown, US users spent $3.6 billion in the top 100 subscription apps in the App Store in 2019, up 16 percent year on year. Google's Play's figure crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time, up from $775 million in 2018. Below is a graph charting the split between the platforms and their growth over the last 4 years:

App Store

App Store (Image credit: Sensor Tower)

The app that generated the most subscription revenue in the US was Tinder, followed by Pandora and then YouTube. YouTube was the high grossing app on the App Store, whilst Pandora took the top spot on Google Play. Other big names include Google One, Hulu, Bumble, HBO Now, LinkedIn, YouTube Music, ESPN and Disney+ (but only on Google Play).

App Store

App Store (Image credit: Sensor Tower)

The App Store's subscription figures account for roughly a quarter (24%) of the $15.3 billion spent on the App Store last year. By contrast, the $1.1 billion spent on Google Play subscriptions accounted for only 13 percent of the $8.7 billion spent on that platform.

The report claims that the data points to the increasing prominence of the subscription model in recent years as a favorable means of monetizing apps that had historically relied on in-app purchases. Sensor Tower claims this is in part due to the fact that many subscriptions renew automatically without interrupting an app's user-experience.

The biggest surprise may actually be the inclusion of Google One in the top 10 Google Play store apps. Sensor Tower notes that the top 10 in this field has usually been dominated by dating and entertainment apps.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.