This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
We've seen the vicious circle of app support a number of times: a platform has trouble gaining traction because of lesser app support, and has lesser app support because it doesn't have enough market traction. It happened early on for Android, and is something that Windows Phone is still struggling with. The strange thing is that it's also been a problem for 10" Android tablets, even though Android has definitely been gaining momentum in the market.
The days of the iPad being the de facto choice for a tablet are gone. The last set of numbers showed that Apple's once dominating lead had fallen to a mere majority stake with the iPad comprising just under 57% of tablet shipments worldwide, and Android all the way up to 41%. Granted, this number does include 7" Android tablets, as well as 7" Android offshoots like the Amazon Kindle Fire, but regardless, Android has certainly proven that it is making its way into the hands of consumers. Getting devices into the hands of consumers is a strong step towards breaking the vicious cycle of app support, and the another big factor in breaking the cycle is in how much revenue is generated on a platform.
The shrinking revenue gap
For those stuck in old thinking, let's get this out of the way as clearly as possible: Android is not populated only by free apps, and users do purchase apps. In fact, while Apple does still lead according to some metrics, the revenue gap is shrinking and some even put the Google Play Store as the better option for making money as an app developer. There are four different sources for the numbers that we've seen, and while the specifics vary, the trend with all of them is that app revenue gap is shrinking.
We do need to point out that a lot of these numbers are based on estimations and extrapolation. The last time there were real stats on the subject of app revenue was back in Aril, then Tech-Thoughts took those stats and used estimated month-over-month growth stats to extrapolate. That doesn't
The general trend comes from App Annie, which is a service that helps developers track their apps' revenue stats across both iTunes and Google Play as well as overall app store trends for all apps. Back in April, the iTunes App Store generated approximately 71% of all app revenue between the two platforms, and Google Play had just 29%. But, extrapolating out by using the month-over-month stats, the gap has closed quickly, and as of September, the Google Play Store could be up as high as 44% of app revenue and iTunes was down to 56%.
This is a pretty big change, and the numbers can be backed up by other studies. Most interesting is by using the numbers from VisionMobile, which
Ad revenue may be the real key, because while some say that ads on iOS are more valuable, the ad revenue could be the big equalizer in terms of overall app revenue. This seems to be shown most in the numbers from Distimo & CCS Insight, which shows that the iTunes App Store is extremely top heavy. Even just based on the original numbers from VisionMobile, the average app revenue per month was relatively close between
The numbers from January show that the Top 200 iOS apps generated $5.41 million in daily revenue as compared to just $0.68 million for Google Play, and even after extrapolating, the top iOS apps still make about 2.5 times more than the top apps on Android. Given how much closer the monthly averages were from VisionMobile, we can either assume that Google Play is either more evenly distributed as far as app revenue, or we can assume that app sales revenue is bolstered by ad revenue. The real answer may be somewhere in the middle, but most stores, digital and physical, tend to be somewhat top heavy as far as product popularity, so it's more reasonable to assume ad revenue is more relevant here.
However you want to look at it, it's hard to argue that Android tablets are bad business, especially with Google pushing harder and harder to put the Play Store front and center in new versions of Android on the Nexus line of devices.