Top 10 VPNs had 31 million installs YTD, generating $23M in revenue

According to data analyzed by Atlas VPN, 10 best-known VPN applications hit 31 million mobile downloads in total during the first five months of 2020. At the same time, these VPN services generated 23 million dollars through in-app purchases.

Atlas VPN research team analyzed the top best-known VPN providers in the industry by downloads and revenue. It must be noted that data was extracted from Google Play Store and Apple App Store, meaning that download and revenue numbers are higher since website purchases and downloads are not included.

During the first five months of 2020, NordVPN, one of the best-known and well-respected VPN providers in the industry, reached the highest number of downloads on Apple App Store and Google Play Store combined. According to Sensor Tower data, between January and May, NordVPN application was installed over 8.3 million times on mobile devices.

With a little over 8 million downloads, ExpressVPN, another high-end VPN provider, respected by industry experts, was the second most-downloaded application.

Hotspot Shield, a popular free VPN provider, comes in third on the list: from January to May, the application had 6.1 million downloads on App Store and Play Store. Cyberghost, another VPN provider, often featured in articles listing top VPN services, had 4.1 million downloads by the end of May.

Meanwhile, Tunnelbear, typically recognized for the unique application design and user-friendly approach, is fifth on the list: from January to May, Tunnelbear was installed 1.3 million times on iOS and Android devices combined, followed by Windscribe with 879 thousand installs.

Surfshark, often referred to as one of the best budget-friendly VPN services, had 842 thousand downloads by the end of May. ProtonVPN, a VPN application owned by ProtonMail, a well-known encrypted email service, is eight on a list with 800 thousand installs.

Finally, with 403 thousand mobile installs, IPVanish comes in ninth place, followed by Private Internet Access, which was downloaded 341 thousand times between January and May.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN services have been competing VPN market leaders for a few years, which is apparent in the number of installations both had during the year. Interestingly, Hotspot Shield seems to be making its way to the top: by outperforming many paid competitors, the service begins to break stereotypes about free VPN services being untrustworthy.

Top 10 industry-leading VPN services generate $23 million in 2020 alone

By offering both paid and free versions of the service, Hotspot Shield generated the biggest revenue during the first five months of 2020. Data extracted from mobile application stores revealed that the revenue of Hotspot Shield hit nearly 9 million dollars in 2020 alone, followed by NordVPN ($7.8 million).

It must be noted that the actual income may be bigger due to orders made over official websites of the service.

With $2.3 million revenue, ExpressVPN comes in third on the list. Similarly, the income of the Cyberghost VPN reached 2 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Tunnelbear generated 670 thousand dollars through Play Store and App Store purchases, while Private Internet Access gained 540 thousand dollars.

Coming in next, the revenue of Surkshark, generated through in-app purchases, reached 570 thousand dollars between January and May of 2020, followed by IPVanish with 357 thousand dollars.

Lastly, Windscribe and ProtonVPN services' incomes were quite similar: in-app purchases generated approximately 150 thousand dollars for either of the providers.

Paradoxically, by advertising themselves as a free VPN and offering free and paid tiers, Hotspot Shield outperformed its paid competitors. Hence, both download and revenue numbers point at the fact that the industry is shifting towards free or budget-friendly VPN services.

And, as the recession begins in some countries, the installs or revenue of budget-friendly VPN is expected to continue growing.


Alex T.

Alex T.


Tags: vpn research