Apple's App Store generated $20 billion for developers in 2016

The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company Apple (AAPL) is seen next to a security camera in Santa Monica, California, United States, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Apple Inc AAPL.O said on Thursday its App Store generated $20 billion for developers in 2016, a 40 percent increase from 2015, helped by the popularity of games such as Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run and increased revenue from subscriptions.

App Store sales topped more than $3 billion in December, helped by the launch of Nintendo Co Ltd's 7974.T Super Mario Run, which was downloaded more than 40 million times in the first four days after its launch.

Nintendo’s Pokemon Go was also the most downloaded application in 2016.

Billings from popular subscription-based apps such as Netflix, HBO Now and At Bat jumped 74 percent to $2.7 billion in 2016.

Apple said customers spent nearly $240 million on apps and in-app purchases on New Year’s Day, the biggest sales day ever.

App sales in China jumped 90 percent last year, Apple said without providing details.

Apple said on Thursday it had removed the New York Times Co's NYT.N English- and Chinese-language news apps from its iTunes store in China at the request of local authorities.

Apple’s own iBooks and iTunes Movies stores have been blocked since April as Chinese authorities worry about social disorder, moral harm and threats to national security.

Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Ted Kerr