U.S. App Monetization Is Firmly Slanted Towards Apple

David BoltonDavid Bolton
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Installs are great … cash is better.

Android may boast the larger device base, but iOS continues to be the cash-cow platform for developers.

According to a report by app-centric market intelligence company Sensor Tower, iPhone owners in the United States spend around $10 more per year in apps on active devices than their Android-owning counterparts.

Per-device spending in 2016 on Android devices in Google Play was around $30, the report said. In comparison, the average iPhone device owner spent $40—a difference of 33%. Mobile games benefited the most from per-device spending in both stores; people spent about $27 on gaming in the last year.

“As our analysis shows, Google Play users are downloading more apps on average, but spending less money on and in them relative to iPhone users,” said Sensor Tower’s mobile insights strategist Ruika Lin, in a blog post. “From a consumer preference perspective, this is not unexpected as Android devices are typically lower-priced than Apple’s, and cost-conscious Android users are less likely to spend as much in mobile apps as iPhone owners.”

App Monetization Chart

Android Device Owners Just Like To Play Games

Mobile games make up 90% of the $30 annual per-device spend in Google Pay. Games are still the major winner in the App Store, but 32% of the $40 spent by iPhone device owners is channeled towards other app categories.

Entertainment, music and audio, social and lifestyle apps all generate revenue in the App Store but the same non-game categories in Google Play earn less than $0.50 in per-device annual revenue.

For example, the average per-device spend on music and audio in the App Store is $3.60. On Google Play, it is $0.39. One reason for this could be the presence of Apple Music, which reportedly has 27 million subscribers, but Google Play certainly has a lower profile when it comes to highlighting music services.

2016 US Google Play Revenue Per Active Android Device Chart

Google Play’s success is often measured by installs.

The average number of apps downloaded per device in the U.S. in 2016 was 42, as opposed to 33 on an iPhone. Games (once again) rule the roost with the average Android owner installing 18.4 games during the year. In contrast, iPhone owners installed less then 10 games. To put that into perspective, the next highest install category on Google Play was Tools which recorded an average of three per-device downloads during 2016—a difference of 513%.

App Monetization Is Always An Apple Priority

Android and iOS monetization rates have always leaned towards Apple, irrespective of the fact that many of the same apps appear on both platforms. The difference comes in the fees that developers have to pay Google and Apple to publish an app.

“Different monetization policies on the two stores is another potential contributor to lower per-device revenue on Google Play,” Lin said. “Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t require publishers to use the Play store’s in-app billing service. As a result, app publishers are able to bypass Google Play entirely for billing purposes and avoid paying Google its 30 percent platform fee.”

App store monetization is a constant topic of discussion for developers and publishers, but Sensor Tower’s data confirms—once again—that the App Store is a cash machine. As recently as June 1, Apple announced that it has paid over $70 billion to app developers since 2008, a significant sum when you take into account that iOS has a global market share of around 18%.

“People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers,” said Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, in a press release. “Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing.”

Apple Phones

And app developers are not likely to find the revenue stream from Apple decreasing in the near future.

As part of a plethora of announcements at WWDC 2017 in San Jose, Apple said that the redesigned App Store will make in-app monetization easier. In-app purchases will appear on an app product page, with customers taken directly into an app or game to complete the purchase.

“Together with our incredible developer community, we’ve made the App Store the best app platform in the world, and more than 500 million unique customers visit it every week,” said Schiller. “Now, we are taking everything we’ve learned from the App Store over the past nine years and putting it into a stunning new design. Every element of the new App Store is richer, more beautiful and more engaging.”

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