Worldwide consumer spending in mobile apps reached $29.3 billion and their installs climbed to 36.5 billion across Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the third quarter, preliminary Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates show. Both of these metrics experienced significantly elevated year-over-year growth, as mobile users spent 32 percent more than the $22.2 billion generated in 3Q19 and installs grew by 23.3 percent from 29.6 billion in the year-ago quarter. In comparison, spending increased 24 percent between 3Q18 and 3Q19 and installs grew by 9 percent in that period. Last quarter’s greater than typical growth reflects COVID-19’s continuing impact on consumer spending in apps as well as a persisting lift in their adoption around the globe.
Worldwide Mobile App Revenue and Downloads
Consumer spending on in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps climbed by 31 percent to $19 billion globally on Apple’s App Store in 3Q20, up from $14.5 billion in the same period last year. Spending on Google Play experienced even more substantial growth, increasing 33.8 percent Y/Y to $10.3 billion from $7.7 billion in the year-ago quarter. The split in spending between the two platforms remained consistent when compared to 3Q19, with Apple’s marketplace seeing nearly twice the revenue earned on Google’s store.
Despite being banned in its largest market and the threat of a similar fate in the United States, TikTok was the highest earning non-game app globally in 3Q20 in spending across both stores, including the iOS version of Douyin in China. The social video-sharing app translated its explosive popularity into a surge of consumer spending that grew 800 percent Y/Y when compared to 3Q19. This was its second consecutive quarter as the top-grossing non-game app.
At No. 2 in terms of spending, YouTube saw its revenue grow 59 percent Y/Y. Although Tinder previously ranked as the highest grossing non-game app in 3Q19, it was No. 3 last quarter as its revenue grew 5 percent Y/Y.
Tencent Video ranked at No. 4 with consumer spending in the app climbing 42 percent Y/Y. Disney+ was bolstered by tentpole content such as Hamilton and Mulan, rounding out the top five highest earning non-game apps at No. 5.
According to our estimates, first-time app installs last quarter grew 23.3 percent Y/Y to 36.5 billion. Approximately 8.2 billion of those came from Apple’s App Store.
Google Play saw 28.3 billion new app installs in 3Q20, up 31 percent Y/Y from 21.6 billion in the same period in 2019. Similar to recent quarters, Google’s platform generated more than three times the installs of the App Store.
As they have done consistently in previous quarters, Facebook’s apps represented the majority of the top five non-game apps by global downloads, although none occupied the No. 1 spot. That went to TikTok, which saw its installs grow 8 percent Y/Y as it returned to the top of the chart after being dethroned by the video conferencing app Zoom in 2Q20. The core Facebook app ranked at No. 2 though its installs declined slightly by 2 percent Y/Y. Zoom’s continuing popularity due to widespread lockdown orders as well as continued remote working kept it in the top five at No. 3. Last quarter, its first-time installs were more than 21 times its installs from the same period in 2019.
Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram rounded out the top five non-game apps by downloads at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
Worldwide Mobile Game Revenue and Downloads
Mobile game spending had previously surged in the second quarter as consumers around the globe sheltered in place and sought out more entertainment options. The third quarter also saw significant growth for the category, climbing 26.7 percent Y/Y to reach $20.9 billion in worldwide consumer spending on the App Store and Google Play. More than half of this revenue came from users on the App Store, which generated $12.4 billion from in-game spending, up 24 percent Y/Y from 3Q19. Games on Google’s platform generated $8.5 billion in gross revenue, reflecting 30.8 percent Y/Y growth.
Chinese juggernaut Tencent took the No. 1 and No. 2 positions among the five top-grossing games in 3Q20 with Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile, respectively. Consumer spending in Honor of Kings and its international version Arena of Valor grew 65 percent Y/Y from across the App Store and Google Play globally, excluding third-party Android marketplaces in China. PUBG Mobile, which includes Tencent’s localized version for China, Game for Peace, was the No. 2 grossing game with spending climbing 28 percent Y/Y.
Niantic’s Pokémon GO was the No. 3 top-earning game, experiencing 33 percent Y/Y growth when compared to 3Q19. The perennially popular AR title recently celebrated its fourth anniversary by passing $3.6 billion in lifetime player spending. Moon Active’s Coin Master and Roblox Corporation’s Roblox were No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, among the top-grossing mobile games last quarter. Coin Master saw its consumer spending double Y/Y during 3Q20, and Roblox saw 119 percent growth. In the first half of 2020, Roblox passed $1.5 billion in lifetime revenue and is nearing $2 billion to date.
Collectively, the top five highest grossing games generated more than $2.4 billion, or 12 percent of all consumer spending on mobile games last quarter, similar to the same period last year when the top five games earned $1.9 billion, or 12 percent of the $16.4 billion total.
First-time installs of mobile games climbed nearly 28 percent Y/Y last quarter to 14.2 billion across the App Store and Google Play globally. The majority of installs came from Google Play, which grew 36.8 percent from 8.7 billion in 3Q19 to 11.9 billion. Conversely, the App Store actually saw game installs decline slightly Y/Y, decreasing 4.2 percent from 2.4 billion in the previous year to 2.3 billion in 3Q20. This figure reflects a decrease in mobile game installs from China’s App Store; outside of China, first-time game installs were up slightly.
InnerSloth’s Among Us was a breakaway hit, reaching No. 1 among the top-downloaded games of 3Q20 with installs that were more than 13 times what it saw in 3Q19. Voodoo’s Scribble Rider and Outfit7 Limited’s My Talking Tom Friends both launched earlier this year and were No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Completing the top five were Sybo Games’s Subway Surfer at No. 4 with installs growing 29 percent Y/Y, and Garena’s Garena Free Fire at No. 5 with installs declining 5 percent Y/Y.
Entering the Fourth Quarter
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has already seen consumer behavior impacted in unexpected and potentially far-reaching ways. As we enter the fourth quarter, new trends will undoubtedly emerge, as will new standout apps, some driven by platform innovations such as home screen customization on iOS.
Our full report on global app adoption in the third quarter of 2020 is coming soon and will include analyses of the top publishers, apps, and trends across both stores.
Note: The revenue estimates contained in this report are not inclusive of local taxes, in-app advertising, or in-app user spending on mobile commerce, e.g., purchases via the Amazon app, rides via the Uber app, or food deliveries via the GrubHub app. Refunds are also not reflected in the provided figures.
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