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Android app revenues to overtake iOS for the first time – thanks to third-party stores

Alex Spencer

Android app revenues are set to overtake iOS for the first time ever in 2017, according to an App Annie report – but Apple’s App Store will remain the single biggest store.

That’s because Android’s total revenues include not only Google Play, projected to bring in $21bn this year, but also third-party app stores like Tencent and Baidu’s popular Chinese alternatives, adding a further $20bn. Combined, the two revenues sources put the OS narrowly ahead of the App Store’s $40bn.

That gap is expected to widen by 2021, with Android revenues at $78bn ($42bn from Google Play, $36bn from third parties) versus $60bn for iOS.

Total app store revenues – including other, much smaller stores – are set to stand at $82.2bn in 2017, compared to $139.1bn in 2021. That’s a CAGR of 19 per cent for the five-year period.

The prevalence of third-party stores is largely down to China, where Google’s own store is prohibited. China is by far the world’s largest market for app revenues, accounting for 39 per cent of the global total (with revenues of $31.9bn) in 2017, growing to 41 per cent by 2021 ($56.5bn).

As ever, Android users are much less willing to spend money than their iOS equivalents – and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change in the next five years.

When it comes to pure download figures, Google Play alone far outperforms the App Store thanks to its greater user numbers. In 2017, Google Play downloads are forecast at 114bn, with another 51bn from third-party stores, compared to 30bn for the App Store. By 2021, those figures will rise to 196bn, 112bn and 42bn respectively – meaning iOS will continue to punch far above its weight in terms of the ratio of app purchases to download volume.

It’s worth noting that these revenues figures don’t include in-app purchases or other money spent inside apps – such as purchases on eCommerce apps.