As tech pros, we tend to look at the app ecosystem through the lens of programming languages and APIs, but cash is still king. The most recent App Annie figures show us how true that is, and how iOS is starting to distance itself from Android.
In its Q1 2017 retrospective, the analytics firm shows that worldwide app downloads were just under 25 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year (YoY). This only reflects new downloads, not re-installs or cumulative numbers.
Google Play has more total downloads than other platforms; App Annie notes it grew 20 percent YoY, and had 135 percent more downloads last quarter when compared to Apple’s App Store. The firm also notes that Android is very popular in India, where smartphone ownership is “below” 30 percent. As India blossoms, so will Android in that region.
Apple’s platform is much larger in China, where most of that platform’s growth came from. It grew five percent YoY as downloads go, but the economics on iOS are far stronger than its rivals. Though Android has far more downloads than iOS, iPhone users spend twice as much as their Android counterparts. In Q1 2017, iOS spending jumped 45 percent YoY. Android spending grew 40 percent.
Evaluating revenue versus downloads, a few things start to emerge. For both platforms, territories outside of the United States are driving revenue increases. Android has India, and iOS does better in China. In fact, App Annie says China “will remain the largest single market for app store spend through 2021 and is poised to hold its title as the largest single market for iOS consumer spend in the years to come.”
Buoyed by that, iOS has a solid upward trajectory on the back of China’s booming middle class. India is also important for iOS, but critical to Android. The unknown is how spending will mature in India. The country at large is just starting to grow into the smartphone era, and its low penetration suggests a ton of room for growth – we just can’t measure Indian spending habits on apps yet.
As-is, iOS users are just plain worth more to developers than their Android counterparts. When comparing downloads to spending, nearly five times more. Android users, on average, are worth about two pennies per user, according to these metrics. iOS users: a dime.
But those are averages, based on statistics gleaned from one quarter – and via one source. Still, App Annie is a reliable barometer for the app economy. The old trope “follow the money” seems to lead right to iPhone, where so many apps make a home before coming to Android (if ever).
It’s also a good argument for the localization of apps. While many popular apps have their roots firmly planted in the United States, these emerging markets represent opportunity for developers on both platforms.