Sensor Tower: iOS Users Spent $3.6 Billion on Top 100 Subscription Apps of 2019, Up 16% Year-on-Year

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U.S. App Store customers spent $3.6 billion on the top 100 subscription apps of 2019, up 16 percent from the $3.1 billion spent in 2018, according to the latest report from Sensor Tower. The total spent on subscription apps was 24 percent of the $15.3 billion that the store generated from user spending overall last year.

Owing to its ad-free premium service, YouTube was the top subscription app on the U.S. App Store, followed by dating app Tinder. During 2019, YouTube crossed the $1 billion milestone through in-app user spending alone.


On Google Play in the U.S. in 2019, users spent more than $1.1 billion in the top 100 grossing subscription apps on the platform, up 42 percent year-over-year from the $775 million spent in 2018. However, the App Store still leads in consumer spending, with $3.6 billion versus Google Play's $1.1 billion, according to the report.

Across both the Apple App Store and Google Play, U.S. subscription app revenue reach over $4.6 billion in 2019, up 21 percent from the $3.8 billion generated by the top 100 subscription apps last year. The subscription revenue accrued by these apps is said to have accounted for 19 percent of the total $24 billion in U.S. consumer spend in 2019.

According to Sensor Tower, the top 10 subscription apps on iOS and Android devices grew by 10 percent in 2019, but the No. 11 to No. 100 apps grew by 35 percent in the same period of time, indicating that the subscription model is also helping the less popular apps earn more recurring revenue.

Despite their growth, subscription-based apps tend to divide the user community. Apple began incentivizing developers to sell their apps for a recurring fee instead of a one-time cost when it made changes to its App Store subscription policies in 2016. Usually, Apple takes 30 percent of app revenue, but developers who are able to maintain a subscription with a customer longer than a year see Apple's cut drop down to 15 percent.

In late 2017, Apple began letting developers offer discounted introductory pricing and time-limited free trials on auto-renewable app subscriptions, based on the idea that subscriptions provide a higher likelihood of an engaged audience.

Article Link: Sensor Tower: iOS Users Spent $3.6 Billion on Top 100 Subscription Apps of 2019, Up 16% Year-on-Year
 

vertical smile

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I have noticed a lot of apps that used to have an upfront one-time price now going to the subscription model.

I see the appeal for developers, but in most cases, I don't see any benefit for the consumer, except maybe longer app support.
 
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4jasontv

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Youtube Premium ftw. Best $15 sub by far imo. I can see why it's the top sub on the App Store.
Agreed, I may never watch YouTube without it again. Although, I’d rather pay $5 for Premium if I could drop the music portion. I know they are hoping it keeps me in their music service, but I suspect if I have to cancel one I’d keep Apple Music and stop using YouTube.
 

69Mustang

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Agreed, I may never watch YouTube without it again. Although, I’d rather pay $5 for Premium if I could drop the music portion. I know they are hoping it keeps me in their music service, but I suspect if I have to cancel one I’d keep Apple Music and stop using YouTube.
I have heard several people express that opinion. I doubt they'd do that. It would devalue their overall proposition. For $10 ($15 family), there's no other comparable sub that offers as much as they do. That's what they're selling: the perceived value. Honestly, they don't care if you use their music service. Heck, they don't care if you use Youtube. They do care if you are willing to continue to spend $10 or $15 per month. $5 for Premium alone doesn't achieve that goal.

You and I part ways on the Apple Music opinion. $15 a month to spend on AM or Youtube/GPM? It's not even close for me. With Apple, you get a music service and that's it. With Goog's you get a video service with no ads and a music service. Your household and mine are probably different, but I can confidently say that usage is probably 10-1 video to music for my clan. GPM works perfectly fine on my kids' iPhones so I've never had a reason to even consider AM.
 

4jasontv

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I have heard several people express that opinion. I doubt they'd do that. It would devalue their overall proposition. For $10 ($15 family), there's no other comparable sub that offers as much as they do. That's what they're selling: the perceived value. Honestly, they don't care if you use their music service. Heck, they don't care if you use Youtube. They do care if you are willing to continue to spend $10 or $15 per month. $5 for Premium alone doesn't achieve that goal.

You and I part ways on the Apple Music opinion. $15 a month to spend on AM or Youtube/GPM? It's not even close for me. With Apple, you get a music service and that's it. With Goog's you get a video service with no ads and a music service. Your household and mine are probably different, but I can confidently say that usage is probably 10-1 video to music for my clan. GPM works perfectly fine on my kids' iPhones so I've never had a reason to even consider AM.
I got Apple Music because it came bundled with Apple TV+ for $5. I’m not interested in any new hardware until next year the earliest, so it was either $5 for TV and Music or $5 for just TV. That’s how I set the value of YouTube at $5. (That and the $9.99 standard for streaming music.) I guess YouTube has exclusive content produced by Google, but I’ve never watched any except the first episode of that V Sauce show and none of it is close to the production quality of AppleTV+. I enjoy the Ad free experience but at $15 I feel like I’m overpaying.

I hear your thought about perceived value and I can buy that. However, for $15 a month I really need them to add support for things like 5.1 surround sound, or even Atmos, and show up in Apple TV’s Up-Next.
- - Post merged: - -

Is it? Now I am intrigued. I don't need music too. What else does premium get me - just takes away the ads?
it also lets you play videos in the background and download videos locally (great for flights) on iOS.
 
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MacBH928

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I would pay for YouTube subscription if they would not require me to log in, track me all over the web, and populate my home feed with suggestions of every single video I have ever seen in history.

I also feel sorry for those that subscribe via iOS since its for sure more expensive if they just chose to subscribe from the website. And why is the iOS spending 3x as much as the much more dominant Android? I guess it reflects the budget of the consumer type.

I have noticed a lot of apps that used to have an upfront one-time price now going to the subscription model.

I see the appeal for developers, but in most cases, I don't see any benefit for the consumer, except maybe longer app support.
The argument is that people pay once but the app has a continues app development process fixing security issues, adding features, updating to the next OS platform, and port to other OS/platforms.

I am more ok with it if it is an ongoing service based(e-mail), and less ok with it when its an static based app (photo editor). Eventually this process will kill innovation because no one will commit subscription to the new comer when they are subscribed to another service.
 

69Mustang

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I enjoy the Ad free experience but at $15 I feel like I’m overpaying.
$15 is for family plan. Up to 5 people. I have wife and two kids on my plan. The $15 plan wouldn't make sense without multiple members on the plan.

The deal you got for ATV+? I can understand where your $5 valuation comes from. Makes sense. I got ATV+ for free with the kids iPhones but between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and life really, I haven't had time to give the shows a go. I'll get around to it before my free year is up.
Is it? Now I am intrigued. I don't need music too. What else does premium get me - just takes away the ads?
No ads, original content, background play, offline downloads, separate video music channel, google play music.
 

4jasontv

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No ads, original content, background play, offline downloads, separate video music channel, google play music.
I might be wrong here, but I don’t think you need premium for the original content. I swear I saw that changed recently.

Miya also worth noting that outside of mobile devices google music is pretty poor experience. There is no app, just a browser extension, and you have to be logged into the same account in google as google music. Not a big deal unless you have multiple gmail accounts.
 

69Mustang

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I might be wrong here, but I don’t think you need premium for the original content. I swear I saw that changed recently.
Ad supported for free. No ads with premium. I could have been a bit more clear here.
also worth noting that outside of mobile devices google music is pretty poor experience. There is no app, just a browser extension, and you have to be logged into the same account in google as google music. Not a big deal unless you have multiple gmail accounts.
Use cases. No desktop app isn't that big of a deal to me. I do wish there was an XBOX app though. I don't quite understand the same account argument. I don't know of a sub where you don't have to be logged into the account to access the service.
 

An-apple-a-day

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I will never, ever buy an iOS or Mac app on a subscription basis. No exceptions. Apps must be purchased at a fair, one-time price, or be free, or I won't use them. I expect to have a perpetual license to use my purchased version and get minor updates at no cost, and then I can choose to pay for major upgrades if I need the new feature set and/or compatibility those bring to the table. The app developers will continue to receive funding for ongoing support and development over time, to the extent their major updates remain relevant and compelling.

However, with iOS apps and Mac apps purchased from the App Store, that means developers must offer separate "upgrade" apps over time, which is inelegant and justifiably unpopular with many users. I believe that's still far better than a subscription model, though. With a subscription model, developers are paid for users' sustained app usage regardless of whether their app updates prove to be relevant and compelling. Then, of course, there's the basic issue of having to endure yet another recurring payment obligation... and another... and another....

For institutions using vertical market applications and/or needing comprehensive support options, I can see the subscription model being [possibly] appropriate. But for most individuals I don't think it makes sense at all.

On a similar note, I will never, ever rent my music on a subscription basis.

The subscription thing is one of my most hated Apple strategies ever. I'd much rather have the ability to purchase "app upgrades" for major new versions from the iOS and Mac App Stores (as opposed to having developers release entirely "new" apps to recoup their development and support costs). Free trials from the App Stores would be good too (but maybe that feature already exists?).
 

Herrpod

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You bet your ass I did. Buy iTunes credit at 20 percent off and then pay for the subscriptions. Nice little savings. And managing my subs via my iTunes account is easier than doing them individually through each provider.
 

vertical smile

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The argument is that people pay once but the app has a continues app development process fixing security issues, adding features, updating to the next OS platform, and port to other OS/platforms.

I am more ok with it if it is an ongoing service based(e-mail), and less ok with it when its an static based app (photo editor). Eventually this process will kill innovation because no one will commit subscription to the new comer when they are subscribed to another service.
I understand that argument and included it in my post.

Just like you, I think that the sub model makes sense for some apps, but it seems like many apps are just moving to this model as a means of a continuous revenue stream.

There are a few apps that I use that had a one time fee to remove ads, but now have a subscription based fee for ad removal. Maybe that sub fee is going back into the app, but I have a feeling this is not always the case.

Some other apps I used in the past had security updates and support for newer OS (up to a certain point) under a one-time fee. Now, some of those apps are now doing a sub-based model, which over time will be much more than the one-time based fee over the old product life.

Again, I think some software makes sense to be subscription base, but many do not other than what I suspect is a cash-grab.
 

ksec

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Dec 23, 2015
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No ads, original content, background play, offline downloads, separate video music channel, google play music.
So the price of YouTube Premium, is Youtube Music ( I assume that like Spotify and Apple Music ? ), AND watching Youtube without Ads? And you can download Video from Youtube to watch it later?

What is Original Content? As in Apple TV ?
 

now i see it

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so the two top things American's want is no ads while zoning out (paid YouTube) and getting laid (Tinder).
 

69Mustang

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In between a rock and a hard place
So the price of YouTube Premium, is Youtube Music ( I assume that like Spotify and Apple Music ? ), AND watching Youtube without Ads? And you can download Video from Youtube to watch it later?

What is Original Content? As in Apple TV ?
Not quite. The part of the service that is like Spotify/AM is Google Play Music. If you sub to GPM, you get YT Premium at no additional charge. If you sub to YT Premium, you get GPM at no charge. Think BOGO: buy one get other free. YT Music Premium comes with the overall sub. It is focused music video streaming (no cat videos or other traditional YT stuff). Original Content is similar to ATV+. Shows like Cobra Kai, Sherwood, Impulse and others.
 

ksec

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Not quite. The part of the service that is like Spotify/AM is Google Play Music. If you sub to GPM, you get YT Premium at no additional charge. If you sub to YT Premium, you get GPM at no charge. Think BOGO: buy one get other free. YT Music Premium comes with the overall sub. It is focused music video streaming (no cat videos or other traditional YT stuff). Original Content is similar to ATV+. Shows like Cobra Kai, Sherwood, Impulse and others.
Just did a little search.


Seems to be the other way around.

So to break it down: YouTube Music lets you stream music with ads. YouTube Music Premium lets you stream music without ads, and has a few extra perks. YouTube Premium gives you an ad-free experience on YouTube, with some additional features and access to YouTube Music Premium.
So YouTube Premium is the bigger bundle.

In that case I think I might actually give it a try. Was Never really satisfy with Apple Music. How the heck did I not found this out until now.
 

KidAKidB

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Oct 1, 2014
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I have noticed a lot of apps that used to have an upfront one-time price now going to the subscription model.

I see the appeal for developers, but in most cases, I don't see any benefit for the consumer, except maybe longer app support.
Exactly. I refuse to pay subscriptions for most apps.
 

4jasontv

macrumors 68000
Jul 31, 2011
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Use cases. No desktop app isn't that big of a deal to me. I do wish there was an XBOX app though. I don't quite understand the same account argument. I don't know of a sub where you don't have to be logged into the account to access the service.
you have to be logged into the two services with the same account. I can’t log into my me1@gmail.com and listen to music on my YouTube premium music account associated with me2@gmail.com. I have four gmail accounts and there is no way to listen to music when using three of them because I have to be logged into google and google music with the same account at the same time. It doesn’t matter that they are all verified and linked together.
 

M3gatron

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Sep 2, 2019
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I would pay for YouTube subscription if they would not require me to log in, track me all over the web, and populate my home feed with suggestions of every single video I have ever seen in history.

I also feel sorry for those that subscribe via iOS since its for sure more expensive if they just chose to subscribe from the website. And why is the iOS spending 3x as much as the much more dominant Android? I guess it reflects the budget of the consumer type.
Login in a a requirement for any subscription.
Also you can pause search and watch history and you will only get random, general suggestions.
You can also delete search and watch history.
YouTube is useful because it's gives video suggestions based on individual interests but it can be used without this element.

Anyway on Android bigger apps can very easily divert subscribers to their own payment system so they can avoid the 30% tax. That's where most of the difference in revenue comes from.