Google Plays Catch-Up And Other Top App Economy Trends For 2013

The just-ended year saw tightening competition between the two leading app marketplaces: Google Play and Apple’s App Store. 

  • According to Distimo, worldwide app revenues in Google Play grew 43 per cent between August and November. That was twice the revenue growth rate at Apple’s App Store during the same period (21 per cent). 

(It should be noted that Distimo’s figures are for the top 20 markets for each platform.)

Google Play’s impressive growth spurt may be a sign that the Android ecosystem is finally turning the corner on its monetization woes

That said, Apple App Store total revenues are still much higher than Google Play’s. Apple’s store averaged $15 million in daily revenues in November across the top 20 countries, while Google Play’s take was much lower: $3.5 million. 

“It’s still way behind Apple,” says Gert Jan Spriensma, analyst at Distimo. 

But Google Play’s gap-closing effort — which we expect will continue this year — wasn’t the only notable app economy trend at year’s end. 

Below, we’ve collected five of the other top app download and monetization trends highlighted in a year-end report by Distimo, an app analytics firm based in The Netherlands. We believe these trends will shape the app economy for months to come. 

  • iPad downloads now account for a significant portion of the iOS app economy in top mobile markets. In Russia, nearly half (46 per cent) of all iOS app downloads are happening on iPads. In China, 28 per cent of Apple app downloads are on iPads, while in the United States, the number is 24 per cent.  
  • The most successful apps continue to build 1 million-plus audiences in the blink of an eye. This year, “Draw Something” grew to 1 million users within nine days, while “LINE POP” — a game by the makers of messaging app LINE — did it in only three days. (By comparison, it took Facebook nine months to reach a million users and it took AOL nine years.) More significantly perhaps, “LINE POP” reached $1 million in revenue in just nine days. 
  • The long-tail effect, while it appears to be alive and well in the app economy, still doesn’t hide the fact that top apps take a huge share of revenue and downloads. Just four apps on Google Play and seven apps for the iPhone accounted for 10 per cent of all revenues in each marketplace.
  • In terms of monetization, games continue to dominate as do in-app purchases. Across the top 20 markets, games accounted for 66 per cent of all app revenues. And in-app purchases were 69 per cent of revenues in the Apple App Store. 
  • The app economy is still concentrated in a handful of countries. The United States is the top Apple market, while Japan is the largest market by revenue for Google Play. The U.S. market is number two. South Korea is in third place on Google Play by revenues and was also the fastest-growing Google Play market. Between August and November of last year, Google Play revenues in South Korea grew by 94 per cent.

Google Play may be growing revenues quicker than Apple for two reasons: growth in key markets beyond the United States, and partnerships with carriers for monetization purposes. 

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