App Annie: Google Play surging in Asia, global revenues up by over 300% in 2012

Apple’s iTunes App Store may be the most lucrative app market in the world, but Google Play is catching up fast thanks to its growing popularity in lucrative Asian markets like Japan and South Korea reports App Annie.

According to the company’s App Annie Index, the amount of global revenues generated through Google Play has increased by 311 percent between January and October 2012, while iOS has seen its revenue increase by just 12.9 percent in the same period. During October 2012, Google Play saw revenues grow by 17.9 percent month-over-month. iOS revenues actually contracted, falling by 0.7 percent month-over-month.

Although iOS still sees more downloads than Google Play, the official Android market is also closing the gap there as well. Over the past five months, iOS has seen the global volume of free downloads increase by 3.3 percent. Worldwide levels of free Google Play downloads are up 48 percent in the same time period.

According to App Annie, Google Play’s growing strength in markets like Japan and South Korea is a key factor in the official Android market’s growing downloads and revenues. In October Japan became the most lucrative Google Play market, generating 29 percent of the store’s total global revenues, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. The three most lucrative countries for Google Play developers are now Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. On iOS the three biggest markets the U.S., Japan and the U.K. Overall, Japanese Google Play revenues have increased by 10x since the beginning of the calendar year.

Its not just Asian consumers, but Asian companies as well — according to App Annie, Asian companies accounted for eight of the top 10 Google Play publishers by revenue during October 2012. DeNA leads the pack based on its massive hit Rage of Bahamut, followed closely by other Japanese companies like COLOPL, GungHo Online, GREE and NAVER. On iOS Japan accounts for four of the top 10 publishers by revenue.

On the level of individual apps and games, Asian companies are also in firm command of the Google Play charts. The most lucrative Google Play game in the world during October 2012 was GungHo Online’s breakout hit Puzzles & Dragons, with other Japanese or South Korean offerings filling the other nine spots. On iOS only two of the top 10 games by revenue were from Japanese companies — GungHo Online’s Puzzles & Dragons and Square Enix’s card battle game 拡散性ミリオンアーサー (King Arthur of 1 Million People.) For non-game apps NAVER’s social network LINE was the most lucrative Google Play app by revenue and the No. 2 iOS app.

Editors Note: We have made a small update to the text of this story to better clarify how App Annie arrived at its revenue numbers. Changes are indicated with italics. Credit to John Koetsier at VentureBeat for the new information.