$ 111 billion spent on mobile applications in 2020

In 2020, our behavior was largely influenced by the health crisis, be it the way we shop, communicate, work, or even have fun. One of the notable trends that have emerged from the pandemic is the increased use of smartphones. These devices, which were already extremely present in our daily lives before the arrival of Covid-19, have proven to be all the more important in the various cases in order to stay in contact with loved ones, to make purchases in complete safety or just to change yours Train of thought.

At the same time, mobile applications have grown significantly over the past year. This comes from a SensorTower report, which shows in-app spend up 30.2% in just one year. Overall, and globally, consumers have spent nearly $ 111 billion on paid apps, in-app purchases, and premium subscriptions.

The App Store retains its lead over the Play Store

Consumers spent $ 72.3 billion on the App Store in 2020, up from $ 55.5 billion in 2019. A 30.3% increase that allows the Apple Application Store to stay ahead of Google. In fact, the Play Store recorded “only” $ 36.6 billion last year, which is still a 30% increase from $ 29.7 billion in accumulated dollars in 2019. Overall, the App Store recorded 87.3% more spend than the Play Store. Small consolation prize for Google: The gap between the two giants remains relatively stable from year to year.

Global consumer spending for mobile apps in 2020. Graphic: SensorTower.

Entertainment apps are having a good time

In addition to the mobile games category, entertainment apps saw the strongest growth in spending on the App Store. They totaled $ 5.3 billion, up 29.3% year over year.

Note that TikTok ranks first in the ranking of iOS applications that had the most consumer spending. On iOS alone, ByteDance’s Chinese social network generated $ 1.2 billion in 2020, an impressive 600% growth over 2019. Results that also propel it for the first time ranks the entertainment applications with the highest revenue, all businesses combined.

On the Android side, the growth in entertainment spending is even more impressive: + 71.4% between 2019 and 2020. At $ 1.2 billion, this category is the most lucrative in the application store. owned by Mountain View.

In contrast to the App Store, however, it was not TikTok that generated the largest turnover last year, but Google One. This subscription service offers cloud storage space. With a year-over-year growth of 41.9%, the app generated sales of $ 444 million on the Play Store.

The applications that generated the most revenue worldwide in 2020 (excluding the mobile games category). Graphic: SensorTower.

In the same category

Soaring Tesla stocks help Elon Musk become the richest man in the world

TikTok dominates downloads

TikTok is a new regular at the top of the leaderboard and is once again the number one most downloaded application, all stores combined. A surprise that isn’t really a surprise, given that the Chinese social network exceeded the titanic limit of 2 billion downloads worldwide in May 2020.

Zoom also made a big splash, ranking second among the most downloaded apps on the App Store and fourth among apps on the Play Store. The video conferencing service achieved third place in the ranking in all branches.

Obviously, the essential WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, Facebook, Netflix and Telegram are competing for the remaining positions. They still leave a few crumbs for Gmail, Google Meet, YouTube, and Likee who manage to secure a few spots for themselves.

SensorTower states that photo and video applications, beyond the mobile game category, saw the most significant growth on iOS: + 8.7% between 2019 and 2020 with a total of 2.5 billion downloads.

On the Google site, applications in the “Tools” category were installed the most, with a total of 7 billion downloads, an increase of 18.6% compared to 2019. A record for this category.

The applications that generated the most downloads worldwide in 2020 (excluding the mobile games category). Graphic: SensorTower.

Mobile gaming apps are reaching new heights

Overall, mobile game applications generated $ 79.5 billion in 2020. A gigantic record, up 26% compared to 2019 results. This category alone accounts for 65.8% of sales. the App Store ($ 47.6 billion) and 82.6% of the Play Store ($ 31.9 billion).

While this category remains the most profitable for both Apple and Google, its share of total consumer spending has decreased by around 2%. This more clearly means that users have paid more, but have also diversified their spending across more categories of applications.

Global consumer spending on mobile gaming in 2020. Graphic: SensorTower.

It should also be noted that, for the first time ever, five different games have broken the billion dollar mark in a single year, all deals combined. In that order, these are PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, Pokémon Go, Coin Master and Roblox.

The top-selling mobile games worldwide in 2020. Graphic: SensorTower.

In terms of the number of downloads, however, the ranking is very different. It’s not surprising that the must-have among us is taking the lead with over 92.8 million installations in the App Store alone. This is followed by Garena Free Fire, the classic Subway Surfer, PUBG Mobile and Hunter Assassin.

Obviously, Fortnite is not part of the leaderboard as the game was deleted from the App Store by Epic Games after the trap it set for Apple in order to be able to sue it.

The mobile games with the most downloads worldwide in 2020. Graphic: SensorTower.

Finally, it should be noted that the mobile games category has a total of around 10.1 billion downloads in the Apple Application Store and 46 billion in the Google Store.


The mobile applications sector, definitely driven by the health crisis, had an exceptional 2020, both in terms of revenue and downloads. It remains to be seen whether this trend will be confirmed once the health crisis is over and a “return to normal” has begun.

Once locks are a thing of the past and entertainment is fully open again, users are likely to have less time on their smartphones and less money on their apps.

Report Rating