The icon of Apple's App Store. (Ritchie B. Tongo/European Pressphoto Agency)

Apple rang in the new year with some good news: the first day of 2017 marked the highest daily sales ever for App Stores.

The company took in $240 million from app purchases on Jan. 1 through its app platform App Store, according to a news release published Thursday. That's after a year of record-breaking subscriptions and downloads, “generating over $20 billion for developers,” the company said.

Apple's App Store got about half of the downloads of its main competitor Google Play in 2016, yet it brought in twice the revenue in the third quarter, according to app analytics firm App Annie. The numbers were similar for the rest of 2016. Apple also had an uptick in subscription billings, a 74 percent increase from last year that came in at $2.7 billion total.

One reason might be the relative affluence of Apple iPhone owners compared to Android users given the higher price of their devices, which typically correlates with higher spending, said Danielle Levitas, senior vice president of research at App Annie.

“I think the most surprising thing is just how strong Apple's revenue lead is and how it continues to beat the market's growth,” Levitas said. She added that the kinds of apps published on the platform range from games to e-commerce, entertainment and banking, meaning that a wide breadth of companies are gaining exposure. “It's not just about app store revenue but rather increased engagement with apps in terms of time spent.”

Sales in China, Japan, the United States and Britain brought in the most revenue for the App Store. Downloads from Chinese users in particular boomed, increasing by 90 percent from last year, according to Apple. That's despite slowing device sales, MarketWatch reported.

“Pokémon Go” was the most downloaded app last year. Other popular downloads included “Super Mario Run” as well as subscription based apps such as Netflix and HBO Go. Last year's introduction of iMessage apps, directly integrated into iOS's messaging platform to allow users to send stickers and play games via chat, accounted for 21,000 new apps on the App Store.

“The fact that Apple continues to grow its installed base and gain dollars per user is very impressive,” Levitas said.