There’s one key difference between Google and Apple’s app stores.
Users on iPhones and iPads spend more money on apps than Android users — way more — and the gap is widening, according to new research from Citigroup Global Markets analysts Mark May and Jim Suva.
In 2015, they estimate that the average iOS device generated $52 in App Store “bookings,” or sales. The average Android phone only generated $5.70 for the Google Play store.
That means the average Apple device spent 9.1 times more on App Store apps and in-app purchases than the average Android user spent on the Google Play app store.
That ratio is up from 2014, when the average Apple device spent 7.7 times more than Android devices on apps from the main app stores.
Most of these “bookings” are passed onto app developers, with Apple and Google taking a 30% cut.
Here’s why this matters for Apple.
Apple has kept iPhone prices high, and allowed Google’s Android to capture lower-income users, which means that Apple’s market share is shrinking.
But Apple has retained all the high-value customers, who are willing to spend more than Android users.
The Citi research indicates that Apple may have found a way to squeeze more and more App Store money out of its existing users.
Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook, have been stressing to investors this year that the company’s service revenue is an underappreciated part of its revenue. iPhone users tend to use Apple’s online services, including its App Store, and that revenue has been growing in recent years.
But the multi-billion dollar question is whether Apple’s services business can grow faster than Apple can expand the number of users using its phones and computers.
“The services business is powered by our huge installed base of active devices,” Cook said during the last earnings call. “As we discussed on this call in January, those 1 billion-plus active devices are a source of recurring revenue that is growing independent of the unit shipments we report every three months.”
That’s good news for Apple’s services business, especially considering that when Apple reports earnings later this month it is expected to announce that iPhone sales were down from a year ago.
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