While Android has a significantly larger user base, iOS has always been the more profitable platform for app developers. That’s expected to change over the next three years, however. One analyst believes that by 2018, Google Play will bring in more revenue than the App Store for the first time ever.
One of the reasons why the App Store has always been more profitable is that iOS users traditionally prefer to buy paid apps over free, ad-supported alternatives, while the average Android user prefers the latter. But according to Radio Free Mobile analyst Richard Windsor, those habits are slowly changing.
Fewer iOS users are choosing paid apps, App Annie research shows, while free and “freemium” titles are becoming increasingly popular. However, this change in trends will only be a small factor in the Play Store’s overtaking off App Store revenue.
Instead, it will be the sheer number of Android users that will swing it. The platform already commands substantially more market share than any of its rivals, and its growth shows no sign of slowing. As it adds more and more customers, then, it’s only inevitable that the Play Store will profit.
“Growth on the [Android] platform has been tremendous,” said Eric Feng, chief technology officer at Flipboard. The company made its popular news reader available on Android just 18 months ago — two years after it was first launched on iOS — and already the Android version accounts for over half of its users.
One of the reasons for Android’s impressive growth is the cost of the devices that run it. The average price of an Android-powered smartphone, according to the latest data from IDC, is just $333 — almost half the price of an iPhone.
Apple made a half-hearted attempt at changing things with the iPhone 5c, but even that is vastly more expensive than most midrange and some high-end Android phones — which is why the Cupertino company has had a hard time trying to sell the device. According to recent rumors, Apple won’t be giving the iPhone 5c a successor this fall.