Top Apple’s App Store developers are earning 64% more than Google Play’s

Randy Nelson for Sensor Tower:

The top 100 earning app publishers across Apple’s App Store and Google Play generated a combined average of $130.4 million in consumer spending globally during the first quarter of 2019, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates reveal. The App Store’s top publishers saw average gross income of $83.8 million, which was 64 percent more than the average of $51 million spent across Google Play’s 100 highest-earning app makers.

Global Spending Per Top 100 App Publisher

We analyzed quarterly consumer spending in apps from the top 100 publishers on the App Store and Google Play between Q1 2014 and 2019. Our analysis revealed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 31 percent over this period, with the App Store and Google Play’s individual CAGR at a closely matched 31.3 and 31.2 percent, respectively.

Global Spending Per Top 100 App Publisher

The Disparity Grows Wider for Non-Gaming Revenue

Looking specifically at the 100 highest-earning publishers of non-gaming apps, we found that the difference in average consumer spending between the App Store and Google Play is far greater. Consumers spent an average of $23.3 million in apps from the App Store’s top non-gaming publishers last quarter, compared to $7 million on Google Play. This represented a 232 percent difference, with the top non-gaming publishers on Apple’s platform earning 3.3 times as much as their Google Play counterparts on average. The combined top 100 earning non-gaming publishers across both stores grossed an average of $29 million during Q1.

average consumer spending between the App Store and Google Play

As this analysis further confirms, Apple’s App Store remains the leading mobile storefront in terms of consumer spending from a variety of perspectives. Last year, consumers spent 88 percent more on the App Store than on Google Play, according to Sensor Tower’s overview of 2018 app spending.

MacDailyNews Take: Android is the backwater platform (Hee Haw!) that we long ago predicted it would be:

Android is pushed to users who are, in general:

a) confused about why they should be choosing an iPhone over an inferior knockoff and therefore might be less prone to understand/explore their devices’ capabilities or trust their devices with credit card info for shopping; and/or
b) enticed with “Buy One Get One Free,” “Buy One, Get Two or More Free,” or similar ($100 Gift Cards with Purchase) offers.

Neither type of customer is the cream of the crop when it comes to successful engagement or coveted demographics; closer to the bottom of the barrel than the top, in fact. Android can be widespread and still demographically inferior precisely because of the way in which and to whom Android devices are marketed. Unending BOGO promos attract a seemingly unending stream of cheapskate freetards just as inane, pointless TV commercials about robots or blasting holes in concrete walls attract meatheads and dullards, not exactly the best demographics unless you’re peddling muscle building powders or grease monkey overalls.

Google made a crucial mistake: They gave away Android to “partners” who pushed and continue to push the product into the hands of the exact opposite type of user that Google needs for Android to truly thrive. Hence, Android is a backwater of second-rate, or worse, app versions that are only downloaded when free or ad-supported – but the Android user is notoriously cheap, so the ads don’t sell for much because they don’t work very well. You’d have guessed that Google would have understood this, but you’d have guessed wrong.

Google built a platform that depends heavily on advertising support, but sold it to the very type of customer who’s the least likely to patronize ads.

iOS users are the ones who buy apps, so developers focus on iOS users. iOS users buy products, so accessory makers focus on iOS users. iOS users have money and the proven will to spend it, so vehicle makers focus on iOS users. Etcetera. Android can have the Hee Haw demographic. Apple doesn’t want it or need it; it’s far more trouble than it’s worth.MacDailyNews, November 26, 2012

“All men are created equal.”

Well, not when it comes to users of smartphones and tablets…

The bottom line: Those who settle for Android devices are not equal to iOS users. The fact is that iOS users are worth significantly more than Android settlers to developers, advertisers, third-party accessory makers (speakers, cases, chargers, cables, etc.), vehicle makers, musicians, TV show producers, movie producers, book authors, carriers, retailers, podcasters… The list goes on and on.

The quality of the customer matters. A lot.

Facile “analyses” that look only at market (unit) share, equating one Android settler to one iOS user, make a fatal error by incorrectly equating users of each platform one-to-one.

When it comes to mobile operating systems, all users are simply not equal.SteveJack, MacDailyNews, November 15, 2014

See also: What we mean by ‘Hee Haw demographic’


  1. All this despite more people owning Android and Apple charging the horrible “Apple tax”. I choose to develop for iOS because of because it just makes sense. Thirty percent is by no means outrageous for a retailer and the customers know that they are much less likely to get crapware because Apple actively reviews what they put in the store. Then to top it all off, we have long heard about Apple customers having disposable income and a willingness to spend it.

    1. What specifically prevents Apple from working hard to make the Mac app store attractive for Mac developers? Why isn’t the Mac more profitable FOR DEVELOPERS than Windows?

      Apple is way too focused on thin client closed ecosystems. They can and should own a bigger slice of personal computing. Cook wants to talk all day about security and privacy—well that’s only happening on a Mac. iOS apps are CONSTANTLY tracking your every click, location, contacts, etc. Apple’s iOS controls are weak because they profit. Nobody ever reads the fin print when they install whatsapp or farcebook. So you are giving away your “analytics” nonstop without any control. That is not acceptable. Don’t think it’s true? Go ahead and lock down your iOS privacy settings as tight as you can. Start using most any app to write things, and within moments ads come out from everywhere selling you what you ralked about. Apple doesn’t offer ANY privacy guarantees on iOS. At least on a Mac one can set up and monitor effective firewalls.

  2. Take with a grain of salt. MDN argues that Android is heavily dependent on ad support. The article reports on revenue solely from respective App Store purchases. The revenue gap may not be as large as indicated here.

    A point to consider is that the research shows revenue for only the top 100 developers. We all know that is just the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of developers for each platform. With ad revenue it is also highly possible that the average Android developer makes some income over the average iOS developer not in their respective ‘top’ ranks.

  3. Another point:
    Because you can buy Android apps outside of Google there are a lot or pirated apps or apps that earn money by loading malware.

    If you have an app but it is pirated obviously you lose revenue.
    The pirated app can be even be given away ‘free’ as it is loaded with malware.

    IOS developers who are trying to force Apple to open up to third party stores are shooting themselves in the foot.

    1. While possible, the majority of Android users probably stick with Google Play (or Amazon if a FireOS device). Which brings up another aspect that wasn’t covered in the report. The same Android App in many cases can and is sold on both Google Play and Amazon earning revenue for the developer. Only the Google Play revenue has been covered by the report indicating that there may be significant revenue that closes the ‘gap’ between Android and iOS developers.

      1. “While possible, the majority of Android users probably stick with Google Play ”



        “Developer Ustwo had one of the break out mobile hits in 2014 with its isometric puzzler Monument Valley, but a successful game is not impervious to piracy. The studio confirmed on Twitter today that Monument Valley has had an especially tough time with “unpaid installs” on Android. The company said that 95 percent of the people playing the game on Google’s mobile operating system did not buy it ”

        Is 5% a majority?

        There is also piracy for iOS but significantly less and only from ‘black sites’ while many pirated Android games are sold on legal sites overseas. As there are legal third party Android app stores it’s hard to tell what is pirated.

        1. Obviously 5% is not a majority but what makes you believe a significant portion of all Android users have the game? 5% is a subset of a subset.

          How old is that quote? I have monument valley via Amazon on my Fire HD tablet and it was free there by the developer. Granted there are in-app purchase options for levels but it appears minimal and those sections can be acquired by playing long enough. I’m guessing enough ads are viewed on the start screen for the developer to make it worth unlocking at that point.

          1. The developer was been quoted from an article on piracy, . As it says on the quote i gave “Not impervious to Piracy”. it’s obvious the developer wasn’t talking about his own free downloads as you’re implying ( ‘I have monument valley via free download … etc”)

            as for ‘subset of a subset” do I have to list every single developer in the articles on piracy? i gave just one as representative example from the article.

            Looking at your reply There’s no doubt you’ve a preset opinion and regardless of quotes or stats I bring it’s not going to make any difference.

            1. And I had asked about the date of that article. I didn’t deny that there was piracy. I also noted by example that the developer was able to distribute the App to interested FireOS users that may have not acquired the app otherwise (like myself). I apologize if the implication was that the developer was not compensated for my free download. The program promoting Monument Valley, among other titles in the promotion, was called “Actually Free” which Amazon ran for about two years ending at the start of 2019. Developers participating in the promotion were paid by Amazon for each download, though it has not been reported what deal was made for actual compensation amount.

              Ok, some numbers then to illustrate “subset of a subset”. Android is reported to have at present over 2.5Billion active devices based on unique Google Play hits (note that this total does not include device using forks like FireOS and the AOSP). Monument Valley has conservatively 1million downloads according to Google Play’s entry for the App. This would mean a conservative total of 19M Android users that have sideloaded the App w/o payment to the developer. This works out to less than 1% of active Google Android devices. The counted ~1M paid users is less than a rounding error. It is likely that people pirating Android Apps don’t only pirate one so a summation of every developer in your article would have a lot of overlap not representative of the vast majority of Android users.

              So going back to my original claim, most Android users probably stick with the Google Play store. And 5% IS a subset (paid users) of a subset (users that acquired Monument Valley). I simply called you on implying that a significant number of Android users is represented as ‘pirates’ by a single example (or possibly multiple instances as you claim in your quoted article).

            2. “Ok, some numbers then to illustrate “subset of a subset”. Android is reported to have at present over 2.5Billion active devices based on … ”

              what are you getting at? with you maths is all screwy.

              You are assuming like that one developer is the only one affected by piracy.
              They are using monument valley as a example of how bad piracy in Android is.
              the implication that nearly all Android apps are affected by piracy.

              Here another example after a 30 second search:

              “Apparently, piracy on the Android platform is such an issue that developers are, in a sense, beginning to give up.
              The developers behind Dead Trigger, an FPS available on both Android and iOS, have decided to give up the fight, and are now making the popular game completely free on Google Play, due to the outrageous piracy.
              Originally priced at only $0.99 in order to get the game into as many hands as possible, Dead Trigger was still subject to an “unbelievably high” piracy rate”

              HERE ANOTHER ONE;
              Business Insider:

              “Ryan Holowaty is behind the Android conversion of Snowman’s iOS original and he highlighted the issues to Andrew Webster and The Verge:

              Piracy on Android is a much bigger issue on the platform especially in the case of premium iOS titles that charge more than $0.99… When Noodlecake ported iOS game Wayward Souls to Android, for example, the studio found that only 11 percent of installed copies of the game were paid for. .”

              see Wayward Souls 89% piracy rate.

              How does this jive with you “So going back to my original claim, most Android users probably stick with the Google Play store”???
              obviously from the three examples I gave after a casual search they don’t.


            3. You implied by your question of “Is 5% a majority?” that I was mistaken with my statement of most people sticking with Google Play.

              I am arguing your thus implied point of the piracy being the fault of a significant proportion of the Android users. I have given you numbers you could easily research and a reasonable rationale for piracy across several apps being of the same comparatively small group of people.

              As for my assuming only the Monument Valley developer has met with this problem, I simply used the one developer you provided to make my point. I think you too have a preconceived notion, that for any given app a significant percentage of the user population actually acquire it.

              None of your examples have shown that I am mistaken in my statement of most people (out of 2.5 Billion) probably sticking with Google Play. I’ll even try looking up the download numbers on Google Play for the titles you listed to show how relatively small they are in comparison to the total Android audience:

              Monument Valley: 1M+
              Dead Trigger: (unavailable but Dead Trigger 2 with 50M+. These devs worked something out if they made a successfully paid downloaded sequel)
              Wayward Souls: 50K+

    2. Another point:
      Taste aside…
      Where can I sell my iOS App with a gun icon and calling Jobs a Cult leader?

      I understand why Apple won’t carry it, I agree they shouldn’t have to.

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