Mobile Apps Trigger $133 Billion in 2021 Consumer Spending

Global consumer in-app spending is predicted to reach $133 billion in 2021, up nearly 20 percent from the prior year, according to market analytics firm Sensor Tower. Mobile games account for 64 percent ($89.6 billion) of the projected spend. While game revenue continues to grow, share of overall spending will by the end of 2021 have declined by 6.7 percent from 2020, due to “the persistent growth of non-game categories such as entertainment, which received a large boost from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” TikTok is 2021’s most-downloaded app, according to the study.

TikTok (including numbers for Douyin, the short-form video sharing service TikTok parent ByteDance operates in its native China), will amass about 745.9 million installs from the Apple and Google app stores. That, despite “a dip of 24 percent” from 2020, when TikTok was banned from top market India in June.

Excluding games, TikTok generated the most revenue of any entertainment app in 2021, projected at $2.3 billion (including Douyin) from both app stores. By way of comparison, Tencent’s “Honor of Kings,” the top Apple App Store revenue-generator, will amass $2.9 billion globally on iOS alone.

Interestingly, Apple is the dominant 2021 mobile game revenue source worldwide (with  an estimated $52.3 billion in 2021 compared to Google’s $37.3 billion), but Google Play generated far more game downloads —  46.7 billion compared to 8.6 billion on iOS.

In the non-game category, No. 2 YouTube and No. 3 Piccoma (a Japanese manga subscription app) “will each see approximately $1.2 billion in consumer spending in 2021 across the App Store and Google Play globally,” Sensor Tower told ETCentric. In this category Tinder, Disney+ and subscription cloud storage service Google One were Nos. 4, 5 and 6, respectively. No. 7 Tencent Video and No. 9 HBO Max also made the global mobile top 10.

Consumer spending on the Apple App Store will reach $85.1 billion in 2021, up 17.7 percent from $72.3 billion in 2020. Users on Google Play propelled 23.5 percent growth for the comparable period, to $47.9 billion from $38.8, says  Sensor Tower, pointing out spending relative to one another remains proportionally the same between the platforms, “with the App Store seeing about 1.8 times the global revenue as Google’s marketplace.”

On Google Play, Facebook had the most 2021 downloads, roughly 500.9 million, “demonstrating the social networking app’s ability to gain traction in a number of emerging markets where Android is more popular,” TechCrunch writes.