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Google’s App Revenue Increases Sixfold as It Chases Apple Store

Google Inc., benefiting from growing sales of smartphones running its Android software, boosted revenue from mobile applications more than sixfold in 2012 as it gained ground on Apple Inc., according to a report from research group App Annie.

Customers buying games in Japan and South Korea helped drive the increase, according to App Annie’s index that tracks the market for buying and selling games, productivity tools and other mobile-software apps. Apple has disclosed that its App Store generated about $333 million a month from June to December. That’s about 3.5 times larger than at Google’s store, called Google Play, according to App Annie.

The year-end results indicate that Google is having success building on Android’s use by almost 70 percent of the world’s smartphones. Developers who once wrote software only for Apple are now dedicating resources to Google to reach new customers, according to App Annie.

“Both platforms are very healthy,” said Oliver Lo, vice president of marketing for App Annie. “More and more publishers are going cross-platform than a year ago.”

App Annie wouldn’t disclose specific revenue figures because it sells that information separately to software companies that buy the data and analytics. While Apple has said the App Store has generated more than $7 billion since 2008, Google hasn’t made such information public. Apple has more than 800,000 apps on its store, and Google has more than 700,000.

Apple, whose App Store sales increased about 20 percent from October to December, benefited from the introduction of the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, App Annie said. While its growth rate wasn’t as high as Google’s, Apple’s store grew more in absolute revenue because it has a larger customer base, the firm said.

Having software developers build puzzles, health and work-productivity tools and other apps are critical as companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft Corp. try to appeal to customers who are moving more of their daily computing needs to handheld devices.

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