App Annie is out with a great insight report about the global app market (www.appannie.com). One of the major findings is that Google Play posted tremendous revenue growth in 2012, fueled by Japan, South Korea and the USA. From Q3 to Q4 2012, Google Play app revenue doubled.
iOS App Store has record monthly revenue gain in December, while Google Play revenue doubles quarter-over-quarter
In the final quarter of 2012, both the iOS App Store and Google Play had strong increases in app revenue over the previous quarter. From Q3 to Q4, Google Play app revenue doubled, while iOS App Store revenue grew by about one-fifth. Even though Google Play had a higher growth rate, the iOS App Store gained more in absolute revenue, given its larger revenue base. The iOS App Store gain also was driven in large part by a record December. Closing out the year, Apple remained the leader in app revenue, earning over three-and-a-half times that of Google Play in December 2012.
Holiday season boosts iOS App Store to a record December
iOS App Store revenue grew by about one-fifth from Q3 to Q4. In particular, it achieved record revenues in December, as monthly revenue increased by about one-third from November to December 2012; this gain surpassed even the standout revenue increase from November to December last year. As highly-desired holiday gifts in many countries, new iPhones and iPads (including the recently launched iPad Mini) typically lead to a jump in app downloads, and consequently, app revenue.
China moves up the ranks in iOS App Store in Q4
In the iOS App Store, the top 5 countries based on revenue remained consistent from Q3 to Q4. These ranks were held mostly by English-speaking countries: the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, in that order. Throughout Q3 and Q4, over 60% of iOS App Store revenue came from those countries.
In the last few months, however, one country has been closing in: China moved from the eighth slot to the seventh in October, and is now the sixth-ranking country as of December. Given its recent growth rates and its population size, China’s eventual revenue potential for the iOS App Store cannot be ignored. In fact, as Tim Cook mentioned in Apple’s last earnings call, China now represents their second largest region and has demonstrated the highest growth rate (for Apple overall, not just for the iOS App Store). With his plans to increase Apple’s focus in China, we can likely expect to see further growth there.
Google Play app revenue doubles from Q3 to Q4, led by Japan and South Korea
Google Play app revenue accelerated throughout 2012, with Q4 revenue doubling over Q3. Japan and South Korea led this growth and contributed close to half of Google Play’s app revenue in Q4.
Growth in Japan and South Korea driven by Games apps
In December 2012, Japan, the United States, and South Korea remained the first-, second-, and third-ranking countries in terms of total app revenue on Google Play. These countries also are the top three in terms of percentage of app money spent on games. In December 2012, among United States users, 76% of Google Play app revenue came from Games. In Japan, that percentage was 88%. Meanwhile, South Korea users topped the charts with 95% of their Google Play app spend going toward games.
Apple, Google, and Electronic Arts remained the top publishers by downloads in the iOS App Store. Storm8 (including TeamLava) was this month’s biggest mover in this Top 10 list, jumping from #14 in November 2012 to #9 in December 2012. The publisher of Bubble Mania and Bakery Story enjoyed success over the holiday season as the company experienced 2 million downloads on Christmas Day across all app stores. Storm8 enjoyed success through creating Christmas-themed in-app purchase items as well as promoting holiday-oriented adaptations such as Bakery Story: Christmas. South Korean publisher NHN continued to enjoy success with its social networking application, LINE, rising two spots. LINE allows users to leave their friends voice messages and chat over data connections. Rovio continued to ride the success of its Star Wars release and the associated halo effect, while Disney rose four slots from the previous month to come in at #5.
Electronic Arts regained the number one spot in this month’s rankings, anchored by the strong performance of The Simpsons™: Tapped Out. Japan’s GungHo Online Entertainment was the biggest mover, as they jumped 6 spots to crack the Top 5. The company publishes Puzzle & Dragons, which dominates the Japan market. This publisher may have more potential to rise if it successfully attracts gamers from outside its core base of Japan; along these lines, it has launched an English version of the game in the US iOS App Store in November. NHN Corp.’s revenues continued to benefit from the adoption of LINE, as the company moved up 5 spots to crack the Top 10. This success is further highlighted by the fact that NHN was the only non-core gaming company in this Top 10 Publishers list.
We continue to see the dominance of Japanese and South Korean publishers in the Google Play revenue rankings, with 9 of the top 10 publishers based in those two countries. Gameloft, publishers of the popular Modern Combat series as well as other types of games, is the sole Western representative in the Top 10, making a reappearance in these rankings upon moving up three spots.
The big story in iOS Games Revenue is Candy Crush Saga from King.com. The game jumped 28 spots in the rankings and is, simply, crushing it. One reason for its fast rise in the rankings from November to December is that it was released mid-month on November 14. As a result, its November ranking was based on only a partial month of activity. In December, the game has monetized well and spent most of the month in the Top 20 in both the United States and the United Kingdom — two of the world’s top countries in terms of iOS revenue. Minecraft – Pocket Edition was another big mover, moving up 4 spots to the #8 ranking. The game successfully capitalized on the Christmas season with more than 700,000 downloads across app stores. Minecraft has become something of a cult classic in the game world, creating an all-new genre where players harvest resources to create everything from their own personal castles to scale replicas of the USS Enterprise.
Once again, the Top 10 games in Google Play are all published by South Korean and Japanese companies. This is not surprising, considering the strong monetization on the Google platform in their home markets.
App Annie’s findings underline how important it is to get a strong foothold in Google Play. G5 Entertainment has a promising line-up of games to be released for Google Play which is clearly needed as its overall portfolio for Google Play is still significantly smaller than its iOS line-up. Most importantly, however, growth rates for both iOS and Google Play are very high which should bode well for G5 Entertainment’s future prospects.