updated 12:43 pm EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Developer revenue more than 2.6 times higher on iOS side
The Apple App Store and Google Play are now nearly equal in terms of download volume, according to new data by analytics firm App Annie. "While the iOS App Store and Google Play both had solid gains in app downloads last quarter, Google Play had a higher percentage growth rate as well as a greater gain in absolute downloads," the firm writes. "As of Q1 2013, Google Play's app downloads were close to 90 percent of iOS App Store downloads." The App Store is, however, continuing to do far better than Play in terms of generating revenue.
"From Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, iOS App Store quarterly revenue grew by roughly one-quarter," says the App Annie report, which echoes similar findings by Canalys. "Meanwhile, Google Play app revenue grew by roughly 90 percent. While Google Play had the higher growth rate, the iOS App Store gained more in absolute revenue and earned about 2.6x that of Google Play in Q1."
Marketing research firm Canalys estimates that Apple generates about 74 percent of all the profits in the mobile app sector, with Google taking most of the remaining 26 percent. This number is crucial to developers as well as users, since it indicates on which platform developers will place their priorities given the odds of success. Critics have argued that while developers make more money with iOS versions, the profits come quickly and fall off dramatically, whereas Google's more ad-based revenue tends to remain steadier.
Google Play's ascendancy reflects the growing popularity of Android devices. While Apple is the most dominant individual player in many cellphone markets, Android has been adopted by nearly all other major phone makers. Apple is overwhelmingly in control of the tablet industry, but is still facing some competition from Android tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google's own Nexus 7 and 10.