Top and Trending Apps

TikTok Becomes the First Non-Game Mobile App to Generate $10 Billion in Consumer Spending

Randy Nelson

The short video social phenomenon has added nearly $4 billion this year alone, and it’s all from virtual coins used to purchase gifts for the platform’s content creators.

We knew it would be a banner year for TikTok when it became the first mobile app to generate more than $1 billion in worldwide consumer spending during a single quarter in Q1. The social video app came into 2023 with more than $6.2 billion of consumer spending and has managed to add $3.8 billion to that total over the year. That added adoption represents growth of 61% from where it started 2023, and was 15% greater than 2022’s sum of $3.3 billion. (Note: the figures discussed in this analysis are not inclusive of Android spending outside of Google Play, e.g., in China where only third-party Android marketplaces operate.)

Earning a Place Among The Monoliths of Mobile Monetization

By surpassing the $10 billion gross revenue milestone, TikTok has become one of just five mobile apps to have done so, and the first that wasn’t a mobile game to do so. It sits atop the market alongside mobile greats Candy Crush Saga from King/Activision Blizzard, the all-time top earner at more than $12 billion, Honor of Kings from Tencent ($11B), Monster Strike from XFLAG/Mixi ($10.6B) and Clash of Clans from Supercell ($10.2B).

The next-closest applications to the $10 billion milestone are Tinder and YouTube, but they trail TikTok by between $2 and $3 billion as the year comes to a close.

Consumers in the United States are tied with iOS users in China for the amount of TikTok’s life-to-date revenue they’ve contributed. Both have generated approximately 30% of it alone, and together comprise 60% of the total, or about $6 billion. After that tie for #1, the top five markets are rounded out by Saudi Arabia at #2, Germany at #3, the United Kingdom at #4 and Japan at #5. Those four countries combined contribute about 13% of the app’s IAP revenue.

$10 Billion on What?

Behind all this spending: TikTok coins, various sums that comprise the app’s numerous one-time in-app purchases (IAPs) as it doesn’t offer subscriptions. The app’s users spend these coins on virtual gifts for content creators on the platform, who can then trade them for virtual diamonds and convert them into fiat currency. TikTok retains 50% of the payout amount. According to data.ai Intelligence, TikTok’s most popular IAP in 2023 has been its bundle of 1,321 coins for $19.99; popular enough that it makes up about a quarter of the app’s IAP revenue.

That revenue is set for even greater growth in 2024, when, as data.ai predicted last week, TikTok will reach $15 billion in consumer spend, or 50% more than its current cumulative sum. Of course, this is on top of TikTok’s other revenue streams, which began with in-app advertising and have expanded to include e-commerce in the form of TikTok Shop, which launched in the app in September of this year.

According to Lexi Sydow, Head of Insights at data.ai, “TikTok is poised to become the highest earning mobile app ever — approaching the $15 billion milestone in 2024. Consumers are spending over $11 million per day tipping their favorite content creators, propelling TikTok past the world’s most lucrative mobile game to date: the addictive and beloved Candy Crush Saga. TikTokers are poised to spend a 40-hour work week each month in the app by the end of 2024, +22% from 2023.” 

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December 11, 2023

Top and Trending Apps

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