The iPhone is widely considered the “rich man’s phone,” but Android is finally beating Apple in one key metric — revenue.
According to new data from Digi-Capital, for the first time, Android is making more money from apps than iOS is.
Android has long beaten Apple in terms of absolute downloads, because it has a far larger install base. Last year, more than 1 billion Android handsets shipped, compared to a (relatively) paltry 192.7 million for the iPhone. But this is largely a vanity metric if it doesn’t translate into actual money, and the largest audience in the world won’t persuade developers to use your platform if there’s no way to monetise it.
But Digi-Capital now believes that in terms of revenue, the Android platform is now larger than iOS. This is good news for developers — while Apple customers remain (on average) richer, and willing to spend more on apps and on in-app purchases (driving higher advertising rates), the news shows Android is a more financially viable platform to develop for than ever before.
However, Google won’t be celebrating just yet. In working this out, Digi-Capital has also included revenues from the Chinese Android app stores, which don’t stock Google apps and don’t give Google any cut of the revenue. Google’s suite of apps aren’t available in China after all. iOS revenues still dwarf either Google Play for the China Android stores, but together they just make it to the top spot.
The rise of the Chinese app stores and their revenues will be be of alarm to Google. It’s a sign of the growing significance of the Chinese market, one it does not have a foothold in. A rapidly increasing share of the global smartphone business is out of its reach.
Apple, meanwhile, is in the middle of an aggressive retail expansion in the country, and is expected to announce today that it now sells more iPhones in China than the US. Digi-Capital’s findings can be taken as a validation of this strategy, further evidence of the importance of the Chinese market.
That said, Android apps are becoming increasingly profitable in some categories. Research from gaming marketing company DAU-UP suggests that average revenue per user (ARPU) for Android games has steadily increased over 2014, from just 20% of iOS games at the start of the year to 65% in December. When taking into account lower advertising costs, some Android apps are now as profitable (or even more!) than iOS ones.
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