Although Google’s Android platform has long surpassed iOS in terms of its worldwide user base, there is still one area where Apple has managed to keep its nose out in front – store revenue.
However, according to Radio Free Mobile analyst Richard Windsor, revenue generated by the Google Play Store is expected to surpass that of Apple’s App Store by 2018.
Over this time period, not much is expected to change in terms of consumer purchasing habits or spending. Previous research into the various app revenue types for Android and iOS have shown that freemium apps continue to the preferred app type amongst consumers on both Apple’s and Google’s platform, this trend is expected to consolidate on the Android platform this year.
Apple customers will continue to display a slight preference for paid apps and those with in-app purchases, when compared with Android users. However, the gap appears to be closing, with fewer iOS customers purchasing paid apps than last year, with more users switching to the freemium model.
Instead, a simple explanation of the increase in Google’s revenue is that the sheer size of its market share is leading to more income. The latest market share statistics show a continued swing away from iOS towards Android in some of the world’s largest markets, and that Android now holds over 80 percent of the market in emerging economies like China, and a similar trend can be seen in some European countries.
The IDC has forecast that the average smartphone selling price will fall to $335 this year, half the price of an iPhone 5S. Appetite for a wide range of handset specs and sizes, combined with a falling average price is certainly a major factor in Google’s growing market share, and this trend is expected to continue over the next decade.
However, it is not just cheaper hardware prices driving Google’s market growth. Android’s ecosystem has grown and matured over the past several years, which has drawn in additional investments in app development and put Android on an equal playing field with the once dominant iOS. We are seeing fewer and fewer apps built exclusively for iOS, and the time taken to port apps between platforms continues to fall. Henry Cipolla, chief technology officer of app analytics and marketing at Localytics, suggests that Google’s improvements to backwards compatibility and its software development tools has helped to reduce the development problems associated with fragmented hardware.
App development on Android is technically more challenging due to its fragmentation … but since Google improved backward compatibility that simplifies writing one app for many Android versions it is less of an obstacle
Per customer, Google will likely continue to generate less revenue than its rival, even into 2018. However, the continued growth and appeal of the Android operating system, both to consumers and app developers, looks set to result in Google catching up with, and surpassing, Apple in terms of total revenue generated from apps.