1% of publishers are responsible for 91% of app revenue

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Sensor Tower data has delved into the relative success of publishers in the app market and found that although the market share is shrinking, the top one percent of publishers still generate the vast majority of both downloads and revenue.

As part of the study, the company analysed the downloads of 900,000 game and non-game app publishers, and found that the top 9000 publishers saw 72 billion unique downloads across both Google Play and the App Store in the first half of 2021 – 79 percent of the total. In contrast, the remaining 891 thousand publishers were responsible for 15 billion unique installs – a 21 percent market share, at an average of 16.8 thousand downloads per publisher.

Meta and Google were identified as the top publishers in terms of installs, each generating over 1 billion downloads in the first six months of 2022, which is a 92 percent increase from the third top publisher.

Success for the 1 percent

In the games space, 106 thousand publishers had at least one download during this period. Again, the top percent saw 79 percent of downloads, with 22 billion unique installs across platforms. The top 10 publishers, including companies like AppLovin and Embracer Group, collectively saw over 5 billion downloads – 22 percent of the total accumulated by the top 1 percent. The bottom 99 percent saw 5 billion downloads between them.

When analysing the revenue of the period, Sensor Tower worked with a smaller pool of 184.8 thousand app publishers. The top 1800 publishers generated $42 billion, while the remaining 183 thousand shared just 9 percent of the market share – $4 billion.

Tencent was identified as the top grosser of H1 2022, generating $3.3 billion in revenue – $2.6 billion of which came from games. This represents a 153 percent jump from the second highest grosser, ByteDance, which brought in $1.3 billion. In total, Tencent generated 7 percent of the app market’s worldwide consumer spending for the period.

However, the 1 percent’s dominance of the market is in decline, albeit slightly. Game downloads among the top publishers declined 3 percent year-on-year, while revenue declined 2 percent over the same period. This represents an industry trend, as the market declines due to the normalisation of the market following the easing of Covid restrictions.

However, it also appears that the top publishers avoided the pandemic boom experienced in the market as a whole. Revenue for the top game publishers remained at 95 percent between H1 2019 and H1 2021, while downloads for the top game publishers fell slightly from 82 percent to 81 percent between H1 2019 and H1 2020, before falling again during H1 2022.

Last month, we listed several of the companies mentioned in this article, including Tencent, as some of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.

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