App Store Publishers Earning US$1 Million For First Time Down Nearly 9% in 2021

Developers have been paid more than $70 billion since Apple's App Store launched in 2008

The number of App Store publishers earning net US$1 million or more for the first time dropped by nearly 9% in 2021 compared to the year before. In 2020, 636 hit that milestone, while in 2021 it was 581, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Context For App Store Earnings as Market ‘Normalizes’

The figure is though worth putting in some context. Five years ago, in 2016, just 310 publishers made US$1 million or more for the first time via the App Store. Sensor Tower said the drop in 2021 from 2020 is “the result of consumer behavior continuing to normalize in the wake of an outsized year for new app downloads in 2020.” A similar trend was seen on the Google Play Store. In 2021, 325 publishers hit the US$1 million mark this year for the first time, compared to 367 the year before – an 11% drop.

This threshold is significant. Apple charges those below it 15% commission, compared to 30% for those above it. The Google Play Store also differentiates.

Who Makes Money?

On the App Store, it is games that make up the largest share of those earning US$1 million for the first time. Social Networking and Entertainment battle it out for the number two and three spots. The same is true on Google Play, but, notably, Communication app publishers breaking into the US$1 million club was up by 84% percent year over year.

While the App Store has always had more of publishers earning US$1 million net revenue for the first time, the gap between it and Google Play is narrowing. The analysis concluded:

Even bigger shifts are coming to the mobile market, however, with changes in the share of revenue taken by platform owners potentially rolling out next year along with more third-party payment options. Time will tell how this will affect publishers on both Apple’s and Google’s platforms and which developers will be able to reap the benefits.

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