Android will surpass Apple’s iOS in terms to revenue generated by mobile apps in 2017, according to data released by App Annie, a business intelligence company and analyst firm from San Francisco. However, the report — titled App Annie Market Forecast 2016–2021 — suggests that Android can take the lead only if all third-party app stores were included in the total.

When pitted against Google Play alone, Apple’s App Store will continue to lead till at least 2021, generating about $60.3 billion in that year, thanks to an affluent and loyal customer base. However, with emerging markets accounting for a rapid growth in the number of smartphone users, Android offers a vast price range to choose from.

iOS to Remain the Single Largest Store in Revenue 1 iOS will remain the single largest app store in revenue terms in 2017, but will be surpassed by all Android stores combined. Photo: App Annie

The worldwide mobile app store downloads will exceed 352 billion annually in 2021, with gross consumer spend across all app stores surpassing $139 billion per year, according to the report.

Mobile App Store Revenue to Exceed $139B in 2021 1 Global mobile app store downloads across all stores is forecast to increase at an annualized growth rate of 19% to hit 352 billion in 2021, while global spend grows at 18% to reach $139.1 billion in 2021, according to the latest App Annie report. Photo: App Annie

“Google Play and third-party Android stores are forecast to see downloads grow at an annualized rate of 23 percent to 299.9 billion per year by 2021, thanks to growing smartphone and app adoption in emerging markets, particularly India, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia,” the report said. "Global mobile app store downloads across all stores is forecast to increase at an annualized growth rate of 19 percent to hit 352 billion in 2021, while global spend grows at 18 percent to reach $139.1 billion in 2021."

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The report suggests the Asia-Pacific region will remain the largest market, both by downloads and revenue, through 2021, with China at the forefront.

As compared to revenue, app downloads are better distributed across the world. According to the data, the top five countries by downloads — China, India, U.S., Brazil, and Indonesia — accounted for 54 percent of downloads last year, and that trend won’t change much through 2021.

The report explained: “At inception, smartphone adoption kicks off strong growth in app downloads. As app usage grows and their value increases, users develop app habits, which then leads to revenue growth through all channels: app store, advertising and commerce.”

The report also forecast that China will move toward becoming a sustained revenue generator for the smartphone apps industry till 2021. Even as India remains the fastest growing emerging market, there is still time before it picks up pace and matches China’s footsteps in revenue generation for app stores.