2015 was a banner year for the app ecosystem. Subscription monetization proved successful for video streaming, music streaming and dating apps. Games, ridesharing and m-commerce also continued to grow in downloads and usage, especially in Asian markets like India and Japan. Finally, we cannot talk about apps and 2015 without mentioning the next frontier for apps: TV and wearables.
Worldwide iOS revenue surged in part due to incredible gains in China, the United States and Japan. China was among the most important contributors as iOS downloads grew 20% from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015 and revenue doubled year over year. Google Play made impressive download share gains in the US, as its share of iOS and Google Play downloads combined surpassed the iOS App Store in 2015. Google Play’s worldwide downloads continued to widen to nearly 100% over iOS during 2015.
- Emerging markets showed impressive download and revenue growth, particularly in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam as device penetration soared.
- In-app purchases (IAPs) as a share of app store revenue continued to grow in 2015 as subscription revenue made incredible gains, thanks to strong demand for video, music and dating apps.
- Mobile games continue to evolve; in 2015 revenue became less concentrated while average lifecycle shortened year over year — these two developments will have a significant impact on app publishers’ portfolio management strategy.
- Wearables and TV emerged as key platforms for apps, presenting new opportunities for publishers. This will be a space to watch in the coming years.
Platform Trends Continue: Google Play Downloads 2x iOS While iOS Widens Revenue Lead
Google Play’s strong download growth was fueled by emerging markets, namely Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico. Apple’s iOS App Store revenue saw robust growth, driven primarily from China, the US and Japan.
The Evolution of Mobile Gaming
Competition Increases in Games and Maturity Cycles Accelerate
Although the individual apps leading the revenue charts remained relatively steady in 2015, beneath the surface there have been massive shifts in the mobile gaming market. Games are maturing at a faster rate, while mobile gaming revenue has become less concentrated. This presents opportunities for publishers who can effectively navigate this changing landscape, but also presents challenges for those that cannot.