Android to Overtake Apple iOS in App Sales This Year

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It’s no secret that owners of an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone are willing to pay a premium for the device. And even though smartphones that use Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Android operating system represent nearly 90% of smartphones currently in use, iPhone owners historically spend more on apps than do Android users. That situation is about to change.

According to a new report from App Annie cited at Axios.com, the combined total spend on apps from the Google Play and third-party Android app stores will total $41 billion in 2017, slightly higher than the $40 billion iPhone users will spend at the Apple App Store. Spending at Google Play is forecast to rise to $21 billion and third-party sales are estimated to rise to $20 billion.

By 2021, according to App Annie estimates, the App Store will generate $60 billion in sales, compared with $42 billion for Google Play and $36 billion for third-party Android stores.

The primary driver of the change is — wait for it — China, which is expected to account for some $56 billion of the 2021 total spending of $136 billion on iOS and Android apps. Low-priced, Android-based phones will continue to sell in large numbers to Chinese consumers and those consumers will spend more on apps.

The most popular apps at both the App Store and Google Play are games. Last year 39% of all app downloads and 11% of time spent in Android apps were for games. However, games also accounted for 81% of revenues for the app stores.