Apple 2.0

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Apple's App Store vs. Google Play: Where they stand

December 21, 2012: 7:23 AM ET

Both now boast more than 700,000 apps, but Apple's store generates 4.3 times more cash

Source: Distimo

Source: Distimo

FORTUNE -- Manufacturers on Google's (GOOG) Android platform may be selling more devices, but Apple's (AAPL) App Store is still the best place to be for developers trying to make a living.

That's the bottom line in the year-end review published Friday by Distimo, a Dutch analytics company:

"On a typical day in November 2012, the revenues in the Apple App Store exceeded $15M USD, while in Google Play the revenues are just below $3.5M USD in 20 of the largest countries in both app stores."

And although Google Play seems to be catching up -- its revenue grew an aggregated 43% in the past four months compared with Apple's 21% -- it still has a long way to go. Looking back to January 2012, the App Store's daily revenue grew an estimated 51% (split 71% for the iPad and 40% for the iPhone).

The report is packed with surprising details. For example:

  • Countries with fastest app revenue growth: Russia leads the world on the iPad (up 143%), Japan leads on the iPhone (+138%) and Korea in Google Play (+94%)
  • Fastest growing apps: It took AOL (AOL) nine years and Facebook (FB) nine months to hit the 1 million user mark. The mobile app Draw Something did it in nine days; Line Pop did it in three -- and within 12 days had generated an estimated $1 million in revenue.
  • Fewer winners take home more: In January 2012, 11 apps accounted for 10% of the revenues on the App Store. By November, that number was down to 7.
  • The average selling price varies by platform: It's down 8% since January on the iPad and up 16% on the iPhone. Google Play apps, on average, are more expensive. Navigation apps, on average, cost the most.
  • In-app purchases vs. one-off sales: Revenue from in-app purchases continued to grow in 2012 -- from 53% in January on the App Store to 69% in November -- but one-off sales still generated 35% of the revenue among the top 10 money makers on Apple's iOS.
  • The big money is in the game market: See chart below.

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 7.02.27 AM

You can download a PDF summary of Distimo's report at 2012 Year in Review.
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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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