Google Play Quarterly App Revenue More Than Doubled Over Past Year, Thanks To Games, Freemium Apps

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How well the Android app marketplace on Google Play is performing is the subject of a new report from recently expanded app analytics firm App Annie, out today ahead of this week’s Google I/O 2014 developer conference. The report indicates that the past year has been significant for Android app publishers, as Google Play apps, downloads, and revenue have all seen what the firm referred to as “phenomenal” growth.

Most notably, Google Play quarterly app revenue – a number that tends to trail that of Apple’s iOS App Store – has more than doubled over the past year, up 2.4x from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014, App Annie says.

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The report, unlike many in the industry, is not sponsored by or funded by the subject in question – Google; but the company is a customer of its products, App Annie notes.

App Annie also estimates there are now “well over 1 million apps” on Google Play, after Google publicly announced the 1 million app milestone last summer. (App Annie did not have a more exact estimate on hand, when we asked.) However, it did note that the number of apps grew by approximately one-third between July 2013 and April 2014, if you wanted to ballpark it a bit.

Downloads, as would be expected, have also grown – by 1.5x year-over-year.

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But raw numbers of apps on hand and apps on phone don’t mean much to mobile app developers if there’s not the potential for revenue.

That’s historically been a challenge for Google Play, which has seen the Amazon Appstore competitor giving developers a better shot on this front, according to several reports. And iOS still generates more revenue for developers overall, though Google Play has been narrowing that gap in recent months.

Today, App Annie says that the growth in Google Play downloads and revenue represents “an expanding opportunity” for developers, with quarterly app revenue more than doubling from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014. Revenue growth is also now outpaces download growth, and this is in large part due to growth of the games category, in particular.

In Q1 2014, games accounted for nearly 90% of Google Play app revenue, up from 80% in the same quarter last year, although they make up just 40% of downloads.

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Downloads, meanwhile, are growing across almost all categories with tools and communication categories seeing particularly high downloads, and communication and social apps seeing high revenue growth.

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“Freemium” (i.e. “free to play”) was a huge factor here, too, with revenue from freemium apps climbing to around 98% of total Google Play revenue in May 2104.

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As for Google Play’s regional significance, the U.S. tops the charts in terms of downloads, followed by Brazil, Russia, South Korea and India. But it’s Japan that’s leading on revenue, followed by the U.S., South Korea, Germany and the U.K.

In Q1 2013, South Korea was in front of the U.S. when it came to revenue, so this is a notable change.

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