Google Play or the Apple App Store

Google Play or the Apple App Store: Which is better?


Erik Olson

Erik the Founder & CEO at Array Digital. Companies come to us when their software holds them back from growing. We solve complex problems so they can compete at a higher level. Reach him at erik@thisisarray.com or on twitter at @erikpmp.


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I previously wrote about how the number of Android phones sold is dominating iPhones sold. That article led to a question on LinkedIn about how downloads compare between the two primary mobile operating systems.

Google Play is the primary Android App store, but it’s not the only one out there. There are several others Android app stores including the app stores provided by Amazon and Samsung. Since Google Play is the primary Android app store, we’ll focus mostly on it when discussing Android.

Google Play doesn’t release detailed app download data, so we have to defer to third parties for analysis for that data. App Annie is the leading researcher of mobile app and app store trends. Their 2016 annual report is the basis for many of the articles found across the Internet on this topic.

There is wealth of data available online about mobile apps and app stores. Some of it is dated and some of it is conflicting. In the end the question that we’re trying to answer is, Is the Android or Apple App Store Better for My App?

That’s not quite as simple of a question to answer as it is to ask. The reason is that there are several factors to consider when trying to determine which is better. Factors include what type of app you’re launching, what country you’re targeting, and the goals you have for launching your app.

The type of app and country focus

App Annie’s report slices and dices downloads and revenue down to the country level. The amount of data they provide is extensive. If you’re interested in the lowest level data then download their report (link provided above) or you can subscribe to their statistics data service.

Generally findings:

  • Android is more prevalent in developing markets. Thus the developing world downloads more “essential” apps such as messaging, social, and security app.
  • iOS / Apple is more prevalent in developed countries. Users there already have the essentials, so they tend to download more specialized apps in categories such as finance, travel, and video.

Number of downloads

As you can see by the summary below, Google Play is dominating the Apple App store in several ways. Google Play has more apps, the number of apps added there is increasing more than 3 times as fast as on the Apple App store, and more downloads come from Google Play.

Stat As Of Date Google Play Apple
Apps available 10/22/2017 3.7 million 2.2 million
Average new apps per day 10/22/2017 5,630 1,670
App downloads 12/31/2016 90 billion 27 billion

Mobile App Store Downloads Mobile App Store Downloads In 2017

Revenue collected

Although Android dominates Apple in the number of phones sold and the size of its app store, an entirely different picture comes into focus when revenue per store is analyzed.

Apple’s App Store revenue is double that of Google Play’s.

Consumer Spend In 2017Mobile App Store Revenue

So although Android has a bigger market, Apple generates more revenue from its market.

However, when all Android App Stores are considered instead of just the Google Play store, Android just about closes the revenue gap. Android app revenue from all Android stores are expected to surpass that of Apple within the next year.

Conclusion

More Android phones are sold, and more Android apps are downloaded, than for Apple phones. Google Play, the primary Android App Store, has a larger selection of apps and is more popular in developing countries that still require essential apps.

But the Apple community in developed countries downloads less and spends more. However, that gap is closing fast.

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