Android App Growth Driven by Developing Markets

Mobile users worldwide downloaded a record 30.3 billion apps in Q2 2019, according to recent data from App Annie. The bulk of these downloads—22.5 billion—were from the Google Play Store, compared with 7.9 billion from the Apple App Store, and the gap between Google Play and the App Store continues to widen. Google Play downloads outpaced those on the App Store by 185% in Q2 2019, up from 170% in Q1.

Consumers in developing markets are driving this rapid growth in downloads. Between 2016 and 2018, downloads grew 5% in the US, but 165% in India, 70% in China, 55% in Indonesia and 25% in Brazil, per App Annie. The numbers would be even higher, but many smartphones in places like China, India and Indonesia are low-end without much memory, which limits the number of apps smartphone owners can download. As a result, more than half of apps installed in China and India are used each month. In the US and Japan, the figure is closer to a third.

The trends continue into 2019. The top three markets for total Google Play downloads in Q2 2019 were India, Brazil and Indonesia, per App Annie. These same three countries also had the highest year-over-year absolute growth rates in downloads. While most Android app downloads occurred in China, the majority of those downloads were via third-party app stores, not the Google Play Store.

For iOS, China, the US and Japan led in total downloads, while the US, Japan and Brazil led in year-over-year absolute download growth. Overall, Google Play Store downloads grew 10% year over year in Q2, compared with flat growth in iOS downloads.

Android dominates in these fast-growing countries because of the broader range of phones using the operating system. “We’ve seen slower adoption rate of Apple and iOS devices in some of these developing markets, especially in India,” said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower.

Google’s lead in downloads will likely continue into the future. We estimate that an additional 394 million smartphone users will come online in Asia by 2023. China and India together will account for 270 million of those new users. In contrast, Western Europe will add 19 million new users and North America 20 million. Moreover, newer phones will likely have capacity for more apps.

And most of those new users will be Android users with a desire to fill their phones with apps. “We see Android continuing [to lead] for a number of years, largely due to the diverse devices running Android software and their range of price points—making them very accessible in markets with lower propensity to spend,” said Lexi Sydow, senior market insights manager at App Annie.

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