The money is on the App Store, but Google Play owns the future

by: Kris CarlonJanuary 21, 2016

nexus 6p vs iphone 6s plus aa (16 of 26)

Apps are an interesting business with interesting stakes. Who wins? The platform with the most installs? Highest revenue? Fastest growth? It all depends on your perspective, and no one does an app market overview better than App Annie’s annual app retrospective. With the 2015 report now out, who were the winners and in what categories?

In some ways there are no surprises: Google Play had significantly more app installs than iOS – double the number in fact – but Apple had 70% more app revenue than Android. So Android has the numbers but Apple has the money. So far, so familiar. But when you drill the numbers down a little, you find all kinds of interesting things:

  • Apple’s app install numbers have stagnated over the last two tears, with 2015’s install figures almost identical to 2014 and 2013.
  • In the US, Google Play app installs beat iOS installs in every quarter, increasingly so as the year progressed.
  • Globally, Android increased its lead in number of installs from 60% more than iOS in 2014 to 100% more in 2015.

App Annie 2015 installs revenue App Annie

Making more out of less

Despite not generating any more app installs than usual, Apple still managed to significantly increase the amount of money it made from the same number of installs. Apple has doubled its app revenue in the last two years without generating any more app installs. This means that Apple has generated double as much money out of the same sized resource – an impressive feat in itself.

Android, on the other hand, has almost doubled its install numbers in the last two years and more than doubled its revenue – but despite much larger overall install numbers than iOS, it still earned only a little over half as much money. This means that while the number of Android users is growing rapidly, those users tend not to pay for apps. Apple users, however, tend to pay for apps more and also pay more for those apps.

App Annie 2015 US-China iOS installs US iOS-Android installs App Annie

New markets

Android’s revenue growth over the last year has slowed a little, whereas iOS’s has held strong. This is large part to China becoming a huge uptake market for Apple in 2015. China doubled its spending on iOS apps last year and accounted for the third most valuable market for iOS apps after the US and Japan. At the same time, China was the largest downloader of iOS apps in 2015 and US installs decreased steadily throughout the year.

On the Android front, emerging markets were the biggest growth areas for Google, with Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico responsible for almost half of the increase in Android installs compared to the year prior. Games were the big earners for both platforms, with games accounting for 90% of Android app revenue and 75% of iOS app revenue.

Google search Nexus 6p app installWhat does it all mean?

So what can we glean from all this fun information? We can, of course, put down Apple’s revenue growth to China, and make the rather obvious observation that Google Play is not yet in China. But the numbers also indicate that even when Android apps are available via Google Play in China, that the install numbers will soar but the app revenue will not.

But what about the US? The data show that iOS installs decreased steadily throughout the year 2015, just as Android installs increased in the US throughout the year. This would seem to point out another obvious fact: that Apple’s “30% of Android switchers” didn’t come from the US, where Android installs are actually on the rise compared to iOS.

If all of these claims have your head spinning a little, don’t be afraid. Everyone’s heads spin when these new reports come out and the spin doctors latch onto a specific bit of information and use it to cast the rest. As you can hopefully tell, even though the numbers seem to say one thing clearly, they can also be used to say the opposite. it all depends on your perspective. So while Apple continues to take its winnings to the bank, Google Play owns the future.

What do these numbers tell you? What do you think is more important: reach or revenue?

  • Geanta Filip

    Many android users get apps from other sources (paid apps too) and that’s why Google play store is getting less money…

    • Nathan Borup

      Yeah like amazon’s free apps

    • Celso Rodrigues


      I remember seeing a study somewhere that if you added Google Play’s revenue with Amazon’s and the many appstores in China it would actually match or surpass Apple.

  • Jeff Moreira

    It would VERY interesting to see two things on this kind of research:

    1- which devices are being used to download the apps?

    This point would clarify the kind of users that are download stuff. If the result, for instance, if it shows that 90% of the devices are low-end ones, it might suggest that even though Android has a huge market share, the users might not have a lot of money to spend on apps.

    2-To include other app stores where you can download apps on Android (i.e. Amazon) and then calculate the revenue.

  • saksham

    lol… i used to download them paid apps for free on aptoide but it was not reliable and many popular paid apps didnt work …. when google play gift cards launched in india, i ditched aptoide ( i dont have a credit card coz im just 15 )

  • hoggleboggle

    Do those figures include in-app purchases and advertising revenue? I would expect this to be much higher on Android than ios.

    • PlanetVaster

      Ad revenue is actually about 1/2 of IOS on android. Idk why, idk about in-app purchases.

  • Andy

    And yet again you prove how pathetic this website is.

    Even if Google said they are abandoning Android, or any other negative fact to be honest, you will always find a way to contradict it and say its actually a good thing…

    Honestly, worse sheep than Apple fanboys…

    • Me

      Here’s a thin foil hat.

  • Captain Jack

    The moment Google accepts the two step authentication factor of RBI and lets the users pay through debit card, I will buy a lot of apps because the number of debit cards is greater than credit cards in India. Google isn’t tapping the potential. Till they doesn’t do this, I am better on downloading cracked apps.

    • Armaan Modi

      I pay through a debit card.

      • Captain Jack

        I failed to add my sbi debit card after numerous attempts.

        • Armaan Modi

          Well..I use Axis bank debit card.

  • HotelQuebec

    I use both iOS and Android but have to admit Android has better selection and better apps.

    • aditya sharma


      • tiger

        Those darn FLASHLIGHT apps that mines your data and steal your info…you guys have the BEST apps!

    • Lindle

      The only point where Apple has better apps is in the big name games, usually ports though

      • tiger

        So, iOS games are ports? Android games are native?

        I will have what you’re smoking! Dude, that is pure ignorance!

        • Lindle

          You’re the ignorant one. What I was saying was that iOS has a lot of the big games that are ports from other systems such as Bastion and gets the ports like the FF series earlier. There are the non-port exclusives such as Infinity blade as well. Android doesn’t have a lot of these big name games, only a lot of small (and crappy) games but a lot great utility apps

    • tiger

      Were you joking? Seriously…was that a joke?

      Pick any ONE app. Compare the quality b/w iOS and Android. Better apps on Android?!! LOL

      No, on Android, you have MORE apps…but most of which are spam and privacy-invading crap.

      Why do you think developers still prefer iOS and thus invest more into iOS ind development?

  • John Doe

    Apple just rips people off better…

    • tiger

      You mean Android folks love to download FREE apps that spam the crap out of your or steal your private info? Remember the top 5 flashlight apps on Android Play Store that were actually mining your data?

      But then again, you Android folks are so smarter…how can anyone turn down an Android phone with 2k display and a processor that cannot run it without lagging and frame dropping?! Oh yeah, you guys are geniuses! LOL

      • John Doe

        Wow .. an Apple idiot TROLL tells it ..
        Got to admit your comment made me laugh ‘Android folks are so smarter’ told like a true literary genius.