Ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook participating in an interview with The New York Times’ Kara Swisher released on Monday — an interview which generated tons of news headlines, thanks to Cook discussing everything from Facebook to Parler, Elon Musk, privacy, iOS 14.5, and much more — new data was released that will provide more fodder for the long-running Apple vs Android debate.
According to research from Sensor Tower, iPhone users in the US spent an average of $138 on apps from the Apple App Store in 2020, up 38% from the year prior. That includes money spent on premium apps as well as on in-app purchases, but it also doesn’t even come close to reflecting the totality of what iPhone users actually spent on apps last year, since it excludes purchases from within apps like Amazon and Uber that aren’t processed through the App Store.
Also worth noting is that the gulf between how much iPhone users spend on apps compared to what Android mobile device owners spend continues to be as wide as ever. This is precisely why so many app developers prioritize launching first on iOS: According to Sensor Tower, Android device owners spent just $38.6 billion on Google Play Store purchases in 2020, a mere fraction of the iOS total.
However, even though Apple’s App Store generated an increase of a little more than 87% in terms of consumer spending last year compared to the Play Store, both app marketplaces saw their respective consumer spending tick upwards at roughly the same year-over-year rate.
To some extent, the overall trend lines reflected in the Sensor Tower data aren’t surprising, since the coronavirus pandemic saw consumers come to rely even more heavily than they already were on mobile devices both for work as well as recreation and fun. To that end, according to the new research, spending on games as well as general entertainment in the App Store exploded in 2020.
Overall, this is what the yearly increases have looked like for Apple for the past several years:
In related news, Cook shared a bit more detail about the App Store in his podcast interview with Swisher, explaining that in any given week, a little less than half of the 100,000 App Store applications that come in for review to Apple are rejected. Apple’s tight curation of the store, in other words, is something that the iPhone maker remains fiercely proud of and committed to.
“In any given week, 100,000 applications come into the app review,” Cook told Swisher during the interview. “40,000 of them are rejected. Most of them are rejected because they don’t work or don’t work like they say that they work. You can imagine if curation went away, what would occur to the App Store in a very short amount of time.”