App Store experienced sharp revenue drop in September, Morgan Stanley says

Apple’s App Store suffered a 5% year-on-year dip in net revenue in September according to a note from Morgan Stanley analyst Erik Woodring. This is the biggest drop in App Store revenue since the financial services company started tracking its data.

Woodring said gaming was the biggest reason for the decline as the sector plunged 14% year-on-year in revenue. He noted that net revenue growth for the top 10 markets for the App Store decelerated, apart from regions like China, Taiwan and South Korea, which grew or stayed flat. These top 10 markets make up almost 87% of the App Store’s revenue.

The analyst’s remarks were based on data from Sensor Tower, which told TechCrunch that Apple registered nearly $6.9 billion in revenue for the month of September — down from $7.2 billion last year. It said that the percentage difference between its own analysis and Morgan Stanley’s note is likely due to rounding.

Sensor Tower also noted that Google Play had an 8% revenue decline year-on-year with spending on gaming plunging by 14%. The company published a report earlier this week signaling that global app revenue declined 5% year-over-year.

Morgan Stanley has blamed the global downturn in the economy for the declining revenue of the App Store. As a result, people are shifting their spending from digital goods to more essential items.

“We believe the recent App Store results make clear that the global consumer has somewhat de-emphasized App Store spending in the near-term as discretionary income is reallocated to areas of pent-up demand,” Woodring wrote in the note.

Morgan Stanley believes the December quarter may yield better results due to the extra selling week and currency exchange rate fluctuations. Notably, Apple recently raised App Store prices for in-app purchases across multiple countries in Europe and Asia to adjust currency exchange compensation. Last month, a report from analyst firm Apptopia noted that developers have raised the prices of apps by 40% year-over-year.

According to analyst predictions, Apple registered $19.71 billion in services revenue in the quarter that ended in September. While that shows 7.9% growth year-on-year, the number is short of the Wall Street expectation of $20.25 billion.

Apple didn’t immediately comment on the story.