App Annie Index: The Rise of Google Play

The Rise of Google Play: App Annie Index January 2013

Google Play posted tremendous revenue growth in 2012, fueled by Japan, South Korea and the USA

Store Index

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 1, 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 2.

iOS App Store vs Google Play Revenue


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.

iOS App Store 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 2 revenue doubling over Q3. Japan and South Korea led this growth and contributed close to half of Google Play’s app revenue in Q4.

Google Play Revenue


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.

Google Play Revenue Composition by Country


Publisher Index

Top Publishers by Monthly Downloads iOS December 2012
  Publisher Rank Change Category Headquarters # of Apps
1 Apple Various USA 19
2 Google Various USA 27
3 Electronic Arts Games USA 958
4 Rovio 1 Games Finland 28
5 Disney 4 Various USA 199
6 NHN 2 Various South Korea 178
7 Gameloft 3 Games France 262
8 Facebook 2 Various USA 6
9 Storm8 5 Games USA 43
10 Outfit 7 1 Games Cyprus 61
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

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.


Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue iOS December 2012
  Publisher Rank Change Category Headquarters # of Apps
1 Electronic Arts 1 Games USA 958
2 Supercell 1 Games Finland 2
3 Gameloft 2 Games France 262
4 GREE 1 Games Japan 114
5 GungHo Online 6 Games Japan 13
6 Zynga Games USA 59
7 Kabam Games USA 8
8 NHN 5 Various South Korea 178
9 SQUARE ENIX 8 Games Japan 150
10 Rovio 6 Games Finland 28
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™

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.

Puzzle & Dragons app detail page
GungHo Online Entertainment’s "Puzzle & Dragons" recently launched an English version


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.

Within the Top 5, Gameloft moved up two places to the number three ranking.


Top Publishers by Monthly Downloads Google Play December 2012
  Publisher Rank Change Category HQ Country # of Apps
1 Facebook Various USA 3
2 NHN 2 Various South Korea 182
3 Rovio 1 Games Finland 13
4 Google 1 Various USA 61
5 GO Launcher Tools China 277
6 Outfit 7 2 Entertainment Cyprus 28
7 WhatsApp 1 Social Networking USA 2
8 Microsoft 1 Various USA 26
9 Halfbrick Studios 2 Games Australia 7
10 Adobe Systems 1 Photography USA 14
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


On Google Play, Facebook continues to top the chart as the publisher with the most downloads. Just behind it is NHN, which continues to move up in the ranks. WhatsApp, on the other hand, fell one spot to the #7 ranking.

GO Launcher is the sole Chinese publisher in this Top 10 list – maintaining their #5 ranking. GO Launcher was initially a side project launched in 2010 by, a leading mobile portal in China. It greatly improved the UI and UX of Android phones, and has since become their flagship product used by consumers all over the globe. GO has since launched a successful suite of products across themes, SMS, keyboard, and other Android utilities.

GO Launcher apps
GO Launcher’s utilities products have been popular in China and worldwide


Halfbrick, publisher of Fruit Ninja and Age of Zombies, also re-enters the Top 10 rankings after a brief absence in November.


Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue Google Play December 2012
  Publisher Rank Change Category Headquarters # of Apps
1 NHN 1 Various South Korea 182
2 DeNA 1 Games Japan 180
3 GungHo Online 2 Games Japan 15
4 GREE 3 Games Japan 121
5 COLOPL 1 Games Japan 42
6 Com2uS Games South Korea 84
7 GAMEVIL 2 Games South Korea 82
8 Gameloft 3 Games France 65
9 NextFloor 1 Games South Korea 1
10 SUNDAYTOZ 7 Games South Korea 1
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


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.


App Index

Top Game Apps by Monthly Revenue iOS December 2012
  Game Rank Change Publisher Headquarters Subcategory
1 Clash of Clans Supercell Finland Strategy
2 The Simpsons™: Tapped Out 1 Electronic Arts USA Simulation
3 Puzzle & Dragons 2 GungHo Online… Japan Puzzle
4 Hay Day 2 Supercell Finland Simulation
5 Candy Crush Saga 28 UK Arcade
6 Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle… 2 Kabam USA Simulation
7 CSR Racing 1 NaturalMotion UK Arcade
8 Minecraft – Pocket Edition 4 Mojang Sweden Adventure
9 DragonVale 7 Backflip Studios USA Simulation
10 拡散性ミリオンアーサー 5 SQUARE ENIX Japan Card
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


The big story in iOS Games Revenue is Candy Crush Saga from 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.

Candy Crush Saga app details’s Candy Crush Saga races up the Index charts


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.

Minecraft Pocket Edition app details
Minecraft‘s cult following is certainly generating the gold


Square Enix’s 拡散性ミリオンアーサー (Millionaire Arthur), a popular card game in Japan, also experienced a significant increase — further demonstrating the genre’s success.


Top Non-Game Apps by Monthly Revenue iOS December 2012
  App Rank Change Publisher Headquarters Category
1 LINE NHN South Korea Social Networking
2 Pages Apple USA Productivity
3 Pandora Radio Pandora Media USA Music
4 Comics 1 comiXology USA Books
5 Zoosk 1 Zoosk USA Social Networking
6 Badoo 1 Badoo Software UK Social Networking
7 Numbers 3 Apple USA Productivity
8 Paper 11 FiftyThree USA Productivity
9 Keynote Apple USA Productivity
10 GarageBand 2 Apple USA Music
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


LINE is the top Grossing non-game app worldwide, showing that the freemium model can work outside of the gaming world – as well as demonstrating the public’s affinity for virtual “stickers.” Stickers are large emoji (Japanese emoticons) that can be purchased from within the app, giving each user a unique set of tools for self-expression. This offers interesting opportunities for designers as well as companies with well-known IP portfolios to monetize the LINE platform.

This month, four productivity apps are in the Top 10. Paper by FiftyThree, Inc. clearly benefited from its App of the Year award, as it jumped 11 spots to #8 in December.

Pandora also continues to hold strong at #3. With much attention paid to the mobile music industry, it will be interesting to see if the company can maintain its dominance in 2013.

Pandora Radio app detail page
Monetizing through music: Pandora holds strong at #3


Top Game Apps by Monthly Revenue Google Play December 2012
  Game Rank Change Publisher Headquarters Subcategory
1 パズル&ドラゴン… GungHo Online… Japan Brain & Puzzle
2 DragonFlight for Kakao NextFloor South Korea Arcade & Action
3 LINE POP 32 NHN South Korea Brain & Puzzle
4 Anipang for Kakao 5 SUNDAYTOZ South Korea Brain & Puzzle
5 아이러브커피 for Kakao 2 PATISTUDIO South Korea Casual
6 GREE 3 GREE Japan Casual
7 暴走列伝 単車の虎 3 Donuts Japan Casual
8 모두의 게임 for Kakao 31 HOTDOG Studio South Korea Brain & Puzzle
9 秘宝探偵 [登録不… 4 COLOPL Japan Casual
10 プロ野球PRIDE [… 4 COLOPL Japan Sports Games
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


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.

Most noticeable are LINE POP’s 32-spot rise and 모두의 게임 for Kakao’s 31-spot rise. Similar to what we saw with Candy Crush Saga on iOS, the fast climb in the monthly rankings from November to December is due to the fact that these apps were released in mid-November. As a result, their November rankings were lower, having been based on app store activity for a partial month.


Top Non-Game Apps by Monthly Revenue Google Play December 2012
  App Rank Change Publisher Headquarters Category
1 LINE NHN South Korea Communication
2 SwiftKey 3 Keyboard SwiftKey UK Productivity
3 FoxFi Full Version Key 13 FoxFi Service USA Communication
4 OfficeSuite Pro 6 + … 7 Mobile Systems USA Business
5 Poweramp Full Version… 1 Max MP USA Music & Audio
6 Comics 1 comiXology USA Comics
7 DocumentsToGo Full… 6 DataViz USA Business
8 Titanium Backup PRO 4 Titanium Track Switzerland Tools
9 SPB Shell 3D 5 SPB Software Russia Personalization
10 Norton Security Anti… 5 NortonMobile USA Tools
SOURCE: App Annie Index ™


While the iOS Top 10 Non-Games by Revenue list is dominated by Productivity and Social Networking apps, the Google Play list is more diverse, with no category having more than two of the Top 10.

As with iOS, we see tools associated with business and productivity making big gains. OfficeSuite Pro 6+ and DocumentsToGo Full Version jumped seven and six spots, respectively, to make it into the Top 10.

FoxFi’s Full Version is another big mover, as there are clearly many Android users who are currently unable to turn their phones into wireless routers with factory settings.

Norton’s entrance into the Top 10 is also interesting, as mobile security is becoming a hot topic of discussion throughout the industry.


More app economy insights

The App Annie Index™ leverages App Annie Intelligence, our premium product. App Annie Intelligence calculates accurate market estimates around the downloads and revenues of the entire app store ecosystem, broken down by store, country, publisher and app.

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1. The Revenue Index metric provides an easy way of comparing different revenue numbers against each other. The baseline data point is typically set to an index value of 100. For example, if January has a Revenue Index of 100, while February has a Revenue Index of 200, then February revenue is 200/100=2 times as high as January revenue. If March then has a Revenue Index of 80, then March revenue is 80/100=80% of January revenue.
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2. App store metrics reported in this article are based on data from App Annie Intelligence. Market-level metrics represent the aggregation of countries that were measured by App Annie Intelligence as of that data month. From January 2012 through November 2012, App Annie Intelligence for Google Play measured data across 35 key countries. Effective with December 2012 data, it measured a total of 44. The 9 countries added represented 3% of the total revenue reported in App Annie’s December 2012 data. As a result, Google Play worldwide app revenue growth from November 2012 to December 2012 may appear to be slightly larger in the chart.
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