According to Sensor Tower, in the third quarter of 2021, global consumer spending and first-time mobile app installs on the App Store and Google Play reached $33.6 billion and 35.7 billion, respectively.
According to the data, although the mobile app market continues to see sustained growth during the ongoing pandemic, year-over-year growth has slowed since the initial increase in spending in the second quarter of 2020 at the onset of COVID-19. In Q3 2021, consumer spending increased 15.1% Y/Y from $29.2 billion in the third quarter of 2020, about half of the 32% Y/Y growth seen last year.
Total consumer spending on in-app purchases, premium apps, and subscriptions rose 15.1% year-over-year to $33.6 billion from $29.2 billion, following growth in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The growth was primarily driven by Google Play, which saw consumer spending grow 18.6% annually from $10.2 billion to $12.1 billion.
While the App Store showed more modest growth, it saw higher consumer spending, as in previous years, and its revenue grew 13.2% from $19 billion to $21.5 billion. As in previous periods, consumers spent about 1.8 times more in Apple’s marketplace than Google.
Having surpassed one billion monthly users, TikTok continued to be the top-grossing app in both stores globally in the third quarter of 2021. In China, consumer spending on the app saw 41% year-over-year growth.
In both the App Store and Google Play, app downloads fell 1.9% from 36.4 billion in the third quarter of 2021 to 35.7 billion. In Q3 2021, first-time app installs fell 1.2% from 8.2 billion to 8.1 billion on Apple’s App Store, according to Sensor Tower data. The Google Play Store saw a 2.1% year-on-year decline from 28.2 billion to 27.6 billion.
Mobile game spending hit $22.4 billion in Q3 2021
According to Sensor Tower estimates, worldwide mobile game spending rose 7.7% in the third quarter to $22.4 billion, mainly driven by Google Play Store. While consumer spending on mobile games in the App Store increased by 5.6% from $12.4 billion to $13.1 billion, Google Play spending increased by 10.7% from $8.4 billion to $9.3 billion compared to the previous year.
First-time installs of mobile games also fell compared to the same period last year, as did non-game apps, falling 3.5% to 13.6 billion in both app stores from 14.1 billion in the third quarter of 2020.
In the third quarter of 2021, Apple’s App Store saw a more significant drop in mobile game adoption, falling 8.7% from 2.3 billion to 2.1 billion, while Google Play fell 2.5% from 11.8 billion to 11.5 billion in the app installs.
Sensor Tower, which recently acquired Pathmatics, also shared data on the advertising spends of top apps. According to the data, the top five highest-grossing apps excluding Facebook in the third quarter of 2021 spent more money on digital ads than the previous year. In Q3 2021, TikTok spent $23 million on digital ads, an increase of 113% year-over-year as compared to its ad spend of $10.8 million in the third quarter of 2020.
Although Facebook’s digital ad spend decreased year-over-year in the third quarter of 2021, it was the second most ad spender app after TikTok, with approximately $6.3 million to digital ads.