The Biggest Threat to Android is Android (and not really a threat at all)

Global App Store Revenue Value Share for 2014

You may have seen this graph making the rounds on tech blogs yesterday; it’s a visual representation of global revenues from the world’s top three app stores in 2014. As you can see, Apple’s App Store handily beats Google Play when it comes to rewarding developers. But add some notable Chinese app markets into the mix—Baidu, Tencent, Qihoo 360—and you’ve an entirely different story:

Android is (finally) making developers more money than iOS.

Now this isn’t insider baseball here; how to get rich developing smartphone apps isn’t our immediate concern. But for the longest time, even after Android became recognized as the world’s most popular mobile OS, iPhone users could boast that the better apps came to iOS first, and some not to Android at all. This news can only mean that Android users will now get served with quality apps first, right?

Maybe.

A “quality” app is a very subjective thing. For example, I’d definitely call TitaniumBackup a quality app, but there’s just no analogue for it on iOS. Also, have another look at that graph. With a few exceptions like WeChat, I don’t imagine there’s a lot of crossover between Chinese app stores and Google Play. Herein lies the problem; Android, in its many shapes and forms (don’t you dare say “forks”), is its own worst enemy.

But not really.

In my mind this is further proof of Android as the industry standard for smartphones. What many would call “fragmentation” I see as diversity. The near half-billion Chinese fandroids might never see the Google Play Store; ditto for Cyanogen OS users with the Microsoft stack—and, while we’re at it, BlackBerry folks with the Amazon Store. But if a developer can work their magic on a single platform and reach a global audience via multiple app stores, wouldn’t that platform be the obvious choice for development?

The more developers who see the obvious benefits of this choice, the more great apps for end users. That’s the real story here, at least as I see it. It’s not so much about the money, it’s about Android as the industry standard mobile OS.

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