The world's four major app stores generated revenue of $2.2 billion (€1.6 billion) in the first quarter – up 9% quarter-on-quarter – with total downloads cresting 13.4 billion.
Total app downloads across the four stores – Apple's App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Store and BlackBerry World – increased 11% from Q4, according to research from Canalys.
The revenue estimate includes paid app downloads as well as in-app purchase and subscription income. It includes both developers' and the app store operators' share.
While some of the strongest gains were felt in emerging nations such as Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, growth was also robust in the more mature mobile markets.
Despite Android's growing dominance in the smartphone ecosystem, Apple's App Store is still well ahead by app store revenue. Canalys estimates that the store accounted for 74% of the indexed revenue from the four major stores in the first quarter.
Yet Google Play served an estimated 51% of the total volume of app downloads across the four stores, reflecting its greater reliance on free, ad-supported apps.
“Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world. In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored,” Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd said.
“Each of these four stores represents a different market proposition for developers, and remains the primary outlet to reach users on the platforms they serve.”
Canalys notes that app publishers, carriers and device vendors are all intensely watching for a third ecosystem capable of challenging the Apple-Google duopoly to arise.