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iPhone faces a real challenge as Android app revenue surges

One of the big mobile content stories of 2012 is how nimbly Google (GOOG) has been able to revive the fortunes of the Android app market, particularly in Asia. On October 24th, we wrote about how AppAnnie statistics highlighted sizzling Google Play revenue growth in South Korea. This might have been interpreted as a side effect of Samsung’s (005930) powerhouse status in Korean handset market.

Now AppAnnie is reporting that Google Play revenue growth in the last month was 17.9% globally while iOS app revenue actually shrunk by 0.7%.

As one symptom of Android app resurgence, Google Play has now overtaken iOS in Japanese revenue rivalry. This despite the fact that the iPhone is remarkably popular in Japan. Over a five-month period, Google Play has delivered 48% revenue growth, impressively outpacing the 3% app sales growth iOS has seen. iOS apps still generate four times more revenue than Google Play apps but ever since early 2012, Google has started closing the gap with remarkable vigor.

All through 2012, industry observers have been wondering how iOS has continued to dominate global app revenue even as Samsung’s Android phone volumes have soared far above the iPhone volumes. It is possible that Google’s improvements to the Google Play user experience combined with the Android device surge have finally started turning the tide.

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