Apple And Google’s App Stores Now Neck And Neck – Except On The Metric That Matters Most To Developers: Revenue

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On nearly all fronts, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android marketplace, Google Play, are essentially tied. Apple offers some 800,000+ apps, and Google claims 700,000 officially, but third-party reports peg it much higher. Google Play is also now growing at a faster rate than iOS’s App Store, in both downloads and revenues. And Google Play reached close to 90 percent of the iOS App Store downloads in Q1 2013.

But there’s one area where Google isn’t winning yet: revenue.

According to a new report from app analytics firm App Annie, the iOS App Store has maintained its lead in terms of monetization, earning around 2.6 times more revenue in the last quarter. During the holiday season – when users are receiving, activating and then filling new smartphones and tablets with apps – that lead was even higher, with iOS generating roughly four times more revenue.

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The U.S. and Japan are leading the revenue drive in Apple’s App Store, though that could change in the near-term. Last year, China had barely cracked the top 10 here, says App Annie. Today, it’s ranked No. 4 in terms of revenue. Games are not just a part of the reason for that – they’ve grown to account for nearly 90 percent of China’s iOS revenue in Q1 – the highest percentage across all countries, including the U.S.

Meanwhile, in Google Play, revenue-leading countries on the charts include, in order, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. The top three account for 70 percent of worldwide revenue, says App Annie. Games, again, drive the dollars, accounting for 95 percent of South Korea’s share, and over 90 percent of Japan’s revenue.

Though there are discrepancies, App Annie’s figures, in general, are backed up by findings from earlier this month from analysts at Canalys. The firm noted that Apple’s App Store accounted for the largest indexed proportion of revenue between the four top app stores at around 74 percent, while the Google Play store led in terms of downloads, at around 51 percent of the stores’ collective total.

Combined, downloads across all four app stores totaled over 13.4 billion, and revenue reached $2.2 billion.

If Android is winning, then it is on market share, growth and, maybe soon, even sheer app downloads. But it’s not winning on app revenue. At least, not yet.

That could change, however, depending on how China goes. Reports find that monetization in that market – marred by fraud, piracy, and too many alternative app stores – is improving. China this February became the world’s top smart device market. Its potential to vastly shake the industry as new users come online can’t be ignored. The general rule of thumb – that Android leads in market share, and iOS leads in revenue may ultimately go the way of China, and specifically the way of mobile gaming.

It’s a trend not lost on Apple, that’s for sure.