App Spending Outperforming Downloads on App Store and Google Play

Worldwide, app downloads are up… and so is spending. A new study from SensorTower shows people are still downloading new apps, and they’re paying more for those apps and various in-app purchases.

In the year-over-year (YoY) view, worldwide downloads are up 10.9 percent. Google Play commands the lion’s share of downloads; it’s up 14.3 percent versus last year, to 19.5 billion first-time downloads. Apple’s App Store is up 3.1 percent to 7.6 billion. SensorTower credits the disparity to emerging low-cost Android devices in developing nations.

Spending mirrors the upward download trend. The App Store raked $12 billion in Q3 2018, almost twice as much as Google Play’s $6.2 billion. The two app download portals were up 23.3 and 21.5 percent, respectively.

Apple’s app portal also outpaced Google’s in gaming, at least in terms of revenue. Google Play brought in $5.3 billion on 7.2 billion downloads, while the App Store earned $8.5 billion on 2.3 billion downloads.

Our chart above tells the tale. The first three columns are revenue breakdowns, while the last three show downloads. When it comes to making money, iOS is far and away the best option. Across the board, iOS users are more willing to spend for apps or in-app goodies. While SensorTower didn’t say as much, we’d conclude the subscription monetization model Apple is pushing so hard figures into all this, as well.

Where we find the greatest interest in this disparity is games. Mobile games drive the app economy in a big way, but the spend-to-download ratio is almost 4:1 on iOS, and roughly 2:3 on Android. Juggernauts such as Fortnite (which is free to download, but costs money for in-game upgrades) definitely drive these numbers, but the findings are still indicative of motive and willingness to spend (versus just download for free).

Across the board, spending on iOS is almost double that of Android: $20.5 billion to $11.5 billion. Downloads favor Android almost 3:1. While the old mantra of ‘Android users don’t pay for apps’ may come to mind, take into account that this is a worldwide audience, many of whom are getting their first smartphone – which just so happens to be Android. In many worldwide markets, iOS simply isn’t available, in part because there’s less expendable cash sloshing around.

Platform disparity aside, the app economy is still growing, and quite healthy. That’s the upside, and the main takeaway we should all be celebrating.

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