DESPITE HAVING FAR fewer handsets in people's' pockets, Apple is sure showing Android how to get people to spend money on apps. This isn't new, but the difference in app store-related profits has never been this stark: in Q3 2018, Apple generated 93 per cent more revenue than Google, according to research from Sensor Tower.
To be clear, neither company is exactly struggling to make shareholders purr like contented kittens, and both are up significantly on the same period last year. In all, iOS App Store revenue came to $12bn, while Google Play generated $6.2bn - a YoY rise of 23.3 per cent and 21.5 per cent, respectively.
There seems to be some truth in the old explanation that iPhone owners buy apps, while Android owners are either more "price sensitive" or "skinflint" depending on how pejoratively you want to frame it.
It's not that people aren't downloaded apps on Android, they just prefer them to be free. In terms of worldwide downloads, Google had 19.5 billion to Apple's 7.6 billion - something probably not helped by Android's dominance in emerging markets where app spend is considerably lower.
Interestingly, the top-grossing product across both platforms isn't exclusively available in app form: Netflix. The TV and movie streaming giant pulled in an estimated $243.7m from in-app subscriptions, which must be a bit annoying for Netflix when its web-based sales go through without the Apple and Google tax. In second place was Tinder and its gold service, followed by Tencent Video.
In terms of free apps, familiar faces make up the majority of the top ten, with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram and the Snappety Chat all making the list. One surprise entry at number four is TikTok, a short video app that has seen a whopping 440 per cent growth, year-on-year thanks in part to the absorption of musical.ly.
With greater app parity between iOS and Android, you'd think that Google would be closing the gap on revenue, but instead it's going the other way. Roughly 80 per cent of devices may run Android, but with just a third of the market's app revenue, something has gone badly wrong along the way. µ
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