Spotify, Line and Netflix Lead App Revenue List for 2016

Tim Maytom

Combined app revenues for Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store grew by 67 per cent year-on-year during Q4 2016, to record highs of $8.7bn (£7.2bn), as apps including Netflix, Spotify and Line powered growth across the industry.

The Google Play Store saw faster growth, increasing by 82 per cent year-on-year to $3.3bn, but still lags considerably behind the iOS App Store, which was already bringing in $3.4bn in Q4 2015, in terms of revenue. During the same period, the App Store grew by 60 per cent to $5.4bn.

According to figures from Sensor Tower, downloads during Q4 totalled approximately 19.2bn, a 17 per cent increase year-on-year, with over 80bn apps downloading in total over the course of 2016.

Excluding games from the figures, Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp made up the top three across both app stores. YouTube, which comes pre-installed on Android smartphones, took fourth place on the iOS App Store, while Instagram came fourth on both Google Play and overall. Snapchat took the fifth spot across the board.

Removing games and the hit cycle they exist in from the equation meant that the top apps of 2016 looked very similar to previous years, although one notable difference was the rise of Uber, taking ninth place overall and seventh on iOS, as the ride share service continues to expand.

In terms of non-game revenues for 2016, streaming services had a big impact, with Spotify, Netflix, Pandora, HBO NOW, iQiyi and Hulu all appearing in the top 10 overall chart. Interestingly, while Spotify and Netflix topped the iOS chart for revenues (and took the number one and three spots overall), neither appeared in the top 10 for Google Play, perhaps due to Android's popularity in developing markets where these services aren't available or as widespread.

Line made a strong showing in 2016 revenues. Its core messenger app was top of the Google Play chart and second overall in annual revenues, and its Line Manga app, a digital comics reader and storefront, was fifth in Google Play, eighth in iOS and seventh overall. The app was only launched in late 2015, but has quickly proved to be a growing source of revenue for the firm.