App Store spending grew 22.1% YoY in first half of 2021

in iOS
Apple's App Store is still seeing considerable growth, according to Sensor Tower, with consumer spending said to be up 22.1% year-on-year for the first half of 2021.

The first half of 2021 has been an extremely profitable period for digital storefronts, including Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. In a report released by Sensor Tower on Tuesday, the company claims that consumer spending is still growing for both of them.

Between the two storefronts, global consumer spending reached $64.9 billion for the first six months of 2021. This is said to be up 24.8% from the same period in 2020, when it generated $54 billion.

The growth may have been helped by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Sensor Tower asserts the main boost in sales stemming from that arrived in the first half of 2020, which saw 28.4% year-on-year growth from the same period in 2019.

On a per-store basis, the App Store is continuing to lead Google Play, taking in $41.5 billion from app purchases, in-app purchases, and subscriptions. This represents a YoY growth of 22.1% from $34 billion, though this is lower than the 29.3% YoY growth between the first half of 2019 and 2020.

Global consumer spending in mobile apps and games [Sensor Tower]
Global consumer spending in mobile apps and games [Sensor Tower]

By contrast, Google Play raked in $23.4 billion from the first half of 2021. While lagging behind in revenue, this does still represent increased growth compared to Apple, as spending swelled YoY by a larger 30% from $18 billion.

The higher revenue of the App Store over Google Play continues the trend found in other reports, such as December's claim from App Annie that the App Store took 65% of consumer spending on apps in 2020.

While revenue is going up, the App Store is also seeing a reduction in the number of app downloads, with a decline of 10.9% from 18.3 billion installs to 16.3 billion. However, Google Play's increase of 6% from 53 billion to 56.2 billion still amounts to a combined growth in downloads of 1.7% YoY.

Sensor Tower reckons the App Store's decline could be due to the surge in app downloads in the first half of 2020, prompting 25.7% YoY growth between the first half of 2019 and 2020. The decrease from 2020 to 2021 may be a sign that there's more competition for consumer attention in markets with high concentrations of iOS users, that are starting to open up physical retail and businesses once again.

In gaming, global consumer spending across both stores reached $44.7 billion for the first half of 2021, representing 17.9% YoY growth. This isn't quite as high as the 2019 to 2020 comparison, which saw a 25.5% climb.

Global consumer spending in mobile games [Sensor Tower]
Global consumer spending in mobile games [Sensor Tower]

Google Play saw a higher level of growth than the App Store, at 24.7% YoY between the first half periods of 2020 and 2021, versus the App Store's 13.5%. The App Store continues to lead, though, with $26 billion in sales versus $18.7 billion.

Game downloads in general declined 1.4% YoY, with the App Store bearing the brunt of the reduction. According to Sensor Tower, the 5.7 billion game downloads from the first half of 2020 shrunk 22.8% to 4.4 billion for the first half of 2021.

Google Play pretty much retained the status quo, managing just a 3.9% growth YoY in game downloads, but with a considerably larger 23.7 billion downloads for the first half of 2021.

The high revenue levels of the App Store have courted scrutiny from critics of Apple's 30% commission fee, which it charges for most downloads and in-app purchases. During the Epic Games trial, an expert cited by Epic claimed that Apple's profit margin for the App Store was close to 80% -- but Apple disagreed.

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