Last Updated on
July 11, 2024

Mobile App Market Growth, Top Categories, Market Size and More

Published in
Key takeaways:
  • The mobile app market generates $522.67 billion dollars in total annual revenue, growth of nearly 12% Year on Year.
  • Advertising contributes nearly two-thirds of all app revenue, at more than $344 billion.
  • The app categories that generate the most revenue are gaming apps and social networking apps, both more than $150 billion annual revenue.

A large part of our lives today revolves around mobile apps. From browsing social media apps, to ordering food, transportation, playing music and watching videos, apps are more prevalent than ever. On average we spend approximately four hours a day using apps - around a quarter of the time we’re awake.

So how do consumer habits translate into revenue for app publishers? Just how big is the mobile app market? And where does this money come from, considering most of the apps we use are free to download and free to use?

We’ll answer all these questions about the mobile app market, and more, in the rest of this article. 

How Big is the Mobile App Industry?

The mobile app market is worth $522.67 billion dollars in 2024, according to research by Statista.

This figure represents nearly 12% growth year-on-year vs 2023, and is projected to continue growing in the double digits in years to come.

Mobile App Market Growth: 2017-2027 (Projected)

Statista tracks ten years of growth in the mobile app development market, which gives us a clear picture of the upward trajectory of mobile apps in the late 2010s and into the 2020s.

Worldwide app revenue was worth just $155.51 billion in 2017. The market has grown nearly 3.5x in seven years, and is projected to reach $673.79 billion by 2027, an increase of around 29% in three years.

How Do Apps Make Money?

For many people, paying for a mobile app is a foreign concept. Yet the mobile app market, as we’ve seen above, is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. So how are apps making so much money?

Advertising is the main driver of revenue for mobile apps, contributing around 65% of total mobile app revenue.

In-app purchases are the other significant revenue source, with 33% of app revenue. This includes subscriptions, upgrades and features purchased within apps.

Only a small portion of app revenue comes from paid apps - $6.09 billion, a little over 1% of all app revenue.

Advertising’s share of the market has steadily increased over the years. As far back as 2017, in-app purchases contributed the majority of app revenue, before being overtaken by advertising, to our current state where advertising generates 2x as much revenue as in-app purchases - a number that is projected to grow even further.

Which Mobile App Categories Drive the Most Revenue?

In terms of the types of apps that generate the most revenue today, there are two clear winners: gaming apps and social networking apps.

Gaming apps generate $196.1 billion in revenue, nearly 38% of all mobile app revenue.

Social networking apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok generate $153.4 billion, or nearly 30% of all app revenue.

Together, these two categories make up over two thirds of the total worldwide app market. The jump to the next category is significant, with entertainment apps generating $39.23 billion and $33.42 billion from shopping apps, each making up less than 8% of the app market.

Fastest Growing App Categories

Most app categories are growing at 10% or more YoY, in line with the overall growth of the mobile app market at 11.9%.

The biggest increases in 2024 are from news and magazines (16.6% revenue growth) and travel apps (16.1% growth).

Interestingly, social networking apps are the only category growing below the overall average, with 7.3% growth vs 2023.

Most Profitable App Categories

User for user, which apps make the most money?

While gaming apps and social networking apps make the most money overall, shopping apps are the most profitable, generating an average of nearly $24 per download, followed by social networking apps and news & magazine apps.

Gaming apps, though they generate the most revenue overall, are actually near the bottom end in revenue per download, averaging just $1.30 - less than navigation apps, lifestyle apps and weather apps.

The average revenue per download in shopping apps has decreased significantly since 2017, where shopping apps averaged more than $30 per download.

However, this number is trending up in recent years, and is projected to continue doing so in the future.

Social networking apps are also trending up in average revenue per download, nearly doubling this figure over the last seven years.

Mobile App Markets Around the World

As expected, the US is one of the world’s top mobile app markets. But it’s not #1, and other players are fast catching up.

According to Sensor Tower, India is the world’s number one market for mobile apps, generating the most app downloads from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store combined.

The US is number two, followed by Brazil, which is projected to overtake the US in app downloads by 2027.

The top five markets in terms of revenue are:

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Japan
  4. United Kingdom
  5. South Korea

According to Grand View Research, the majority of mobile app revenue comes from the Asia-Pacific region (including China, India, Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand), with 32% market share in 2023.

Markets that are trending up include:

  • China (15.8% projected annual growth rate)
  • The US (14% projected annual growth rate)
  • Germany (14.4% projected annual growth rate)

The UK, France and the Middle East and Africa region are also among those expected to see significant growth in the next five years.

Apple App Store vs Google Play Store Revenue

While 70% of smartphone users around the world are on Android, nearly two thirds of all app revenue comes from the Apple App Store.

This figure has barely changed since 2017, and is projected to stay the same in the foreseeable future.

Why the Mobile App Market is Growing So Fast

Mobile apps are generating tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue each year, growing at a double-digit rate. So what’s the reason behind this upward trajectory?

The biggest reason is likely the increased share of mobile internet users. More than 58% of people today use mobile to go online.

Around a decade ago, mobile held less than 20% of the internet traffic market share, and is now widening the gap.

With more people using the internet via mobile devices, it’s natural to assume that more people are using apps, too, as they provide a more natural experience for mobile users.

We can see similar growth in other areas. The mobile commerce market now makes up 38% of all digital spending, and during Thanksgiving weekend 2023, more sales came on mobile than on desktop.

There has also been a huge increase in the number of apps available.

There are now over 3.7 million apps available on the Google Play Store, and 1.7 million on the Apple App Store.

Between 2016 and 2022, the number of apps downloaded per year increased by 82%.

This is partly due to apps becoming more accessible for brands and small businesses.

Today, you don’t need to have a team of mobile app developers in-house, or millions of dollars to spend on development, to launch your own app.

No-code tools have made it easier than ever for non-developers to launch apps, and services like MobiLoud make it simple and affordable for any web-first businesses (such as eCommerce stores, publishers and SaaS companies) to launch an app alongside their website. 

How to Get Your Piece of the Mobile App Market

If you’re running a web-based business, the mobile app market trends we’ve discussed in this article may make you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t have an app.

With MobiLoud, you don’t have to miss out.

MobiLoud converts any website into mobile apps, with minimal effort and overhead required.

You don’t need any technical expertise in mobile app development, and you don’t need to hire expensive developers.

All you need is a website that works well on mobile, and MobiLoud will convert your website to native apps that look and feel like million-dollar custom apps.

Book a preview of your app now to see what’s possible, and carve out your share of the growing mobile app market.

References

Get a working preview of your app prepared by our team. Your MobiLoud app integrates with your entire tech stack, works with all custom features, and automatically syncs with everything on your site in real time.

Convert your website into a mobile app

Get custom mobile apps for iOS and Android that update automatically with your site and work with your entire tech stack.
Rainbow Shops logo.Bestseller's logo.John Varvatos logo.
Only & Sons iOS app.

Read more posts like this.

Thank you! We'll be in touch within 48 hours :)
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.