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In-depth analysis of Ovum's Digital Content and Services: App Ecosystems Forecast, 2016–21, looking at end-user spend vs. in-app advertising, app ecosystems, games vs. non-gaming apps, and developed vs. emerging markets.


  • The global apps market will be worth more than $185bn by 2021, with in-app advertising overtaking end-user spend as the biggest revenue driver as of 2018.
  • Although Android will overtake iOS in terms of total app revenue next year, iOS will remain untouchable in terms of yield per download.
  • While in-app advertising is the main revenue driver for non-game apps and Google Play, end-user spend will continue to be the main driver for mobile games and the Apple App Store.

Features and Benefits

  • Find out where growth will be concentrated over the next five years and the underlying factors shaping the market.
  • Find out how the balance of power will change between app ecosystems and revenue streams
  • Learn about the role that emerging markets will play in future growth and China's phenomenal contribution to the global pie.

Key questions answered

  • Where will growth be concentrated over the next five years and which underlying factors are shaping the market?
  • How will the balance of power change between app ecosystems and revenue streams?
  • What the role will emerging markets play in future growth and what will be China's contribution to the global pie?

Table of contents


  • In brief
  • Ovum view
  • Definitions
  • Recommendations

Growth dynamics

  • Setting the scene
  • Downloads plateau, as revenues grow
  • Advertising revenue soon to overtake end-user spend
  • Advertising's share of developer revenue
  • iOS weighed against Android
  • Apple leads revenue per download
  • Apple and Google excel on different fronts
  • Steepest growth for Google
  • Maturing market
  • Sustained revenue growth
  • Declining downloads growth

Geographic dynamics

  • Regional distribution
  • Developed vs. emerging markets
  • China's dominance
  • Country rankings


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Authors