Report: Android to surpass iOS app store revenue this year, with a catch

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For years, Apple’s iOS App Store has been the first place almost anyone has thought of when it comes to downloading that app that lets you watch Netflix or that Amazon Kindle app for reading books on your iPad or iPhone.

But are sales from Apple’s App Store about to be surpassed by those from apps designed for Android-based devices?

That’s the estimate coming from App Annie, a website and research firm dedicated to tracking the app business. App Annie’s latest report on app revenue, released on Thursday, says Android app sales will claim the top spot from iOS this year… with a catch.

App Annie said revenue from app downloads should reach $82.2 billion this year, up from $61.8 billion in 2016. Of that total, iOS sales are forecast to climb to $40 billion from last year’s total of $34 billion.

Where Android overtakes iOS is when sales from Google Play app downloads (forecast to reach $21 billion) are combined with those from third-party Android stores (estimated at $20 billion this year), for a grand Android total of $41 billion. The third-party Android stores include marketplaces run by the likes of Baidu, Tencent and Huawei.

While Android may, in total, surpass Apple’s iOS store download sales, App Annie noted that, as far as a single app store is concerned, Apple’s should remain the top generator of app revenue until at least 2021. By that year, App Annie estimates revenue for the iOS App Store will reach $60 billion, and total worldwide app sales from downloads will climb to $139.1 billion, with downloads of almost 353 billion apps that year.

Photo: A woman uses an Android smartphone in Brussels on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. App Annie estimates that Android app store sales will top those from Apple iOS App Store this year. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)