- Tinder, Pandora, YouTube and HBO Now led a yearly gain of 21% to $4.6 billion in subscription revenue for the 100 most popular non-gaming apps last year. Subscriptions made up 19% of the total $24 billion that consumers spent on non-game apps from Apple's App Store and Google Play, according to new research from Sensor Tower.
- Dating app Tinder captured 10% of that spending from in-app purchases and recurring revenue from its Tinder Gold plan of $15 a month and Tinder Plus for $10. Audio streaming platform Pandora, which has three subscription tiers, generated 20% of subscription revenue for Google Play, while the search giant's Google One cloud storage app accrued 15% of revenue for the top 100 apps, per Sensor Tower.
- Apple's App Store generated $3.6 billion in subscription revenue for the top 100 non-gaming apps, or more than three times what Google Play saw at $1.1 billion. Google's YouTube topped the ranking for the App Store with subscription revenue of more than $1 billion, Sensor Tower found.
Sensor Tower's data on subscriptions for non-gaming apps demonstrate the growing importance of recurring revenue for app-based services such as streaming and online dating. Streaming services dominate the top 10, as seen with appearances of Pandora, YouTube, HBO Now, Hulu, YouTube Music and ESPN. The top 10 for Apple's App Store alone includes YouTube, Pandora, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube Music, Amazon Music and ESPN.
As Sensor Tower notes, the appearance of Google One in the top 10 is significant because it shows that subscription revenue may be diversifying beyond dating and streaming apps. While the top 10 apps grew their subscription revenue 10% last year from 2018, the apps ranked No. 11 to No. 100 boosted their revenue 35%, a sign that a broader group of developers can monetize their apps with subscriptions.
Notably absent from the ranking are streaming platforms Netflix and Spotify, which last year sought to avoid paying the "Apple tax" by urging consumers to sign up for subscriptions via their own websites. Apple and Google typically collect a 30% commission on the first year of subscriptions, which falls to 15% in subsequent years.
Spotify and Apple are engaged in a legal battle over App Store fees. Spotify last year filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union, which subsequently opened an investigation into the tech giant, the Financial Times reported. Spotify's complaint also caught the attention of U.S. lawmakers, which in October asked the audio streaming giant for more information about Apple's business practices as part of a broader antitrust probe, Reuters reported.