Apple Rakes in the Most Mobile App Revenue: Study

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Apple's iPhone may not be the most dominant smartphone worldwide, but the tech giant is killing its competitors when it comes to mobile app revenue, according to a recent study.

In the first quarter, the iPhone maker accounted for 74 percent of the total revenue generated by the four leading app stores—which also include Google Play store, Microsoft's Windows Phone store and BlackBerry World, according to the study by the analyst firm Canalys.

Combined, the four app stores brought in about $2.2 billion in the quarter from app sales, in-app purchases and subscriptions, meaning Apple made about $1.63 billion of the lump sum.

Apple may have raked in the most money from its app store, but Google saw the greatest number of downloads. Downloads from the Google Play store accounted for 51 percent of all downloads, with Apple close behind, according to the report. The four app stores totaled 13.4 billion downloads.

Google benefited because Android devices are more common than iPhones, but Apple consumers were more likely to spend more money on apps, said Tim Shepherd, senior analyst at Canalys.

"Apple's customers have all bought into Apple's high end proposition, and they see a greater level of engagement in downloading and particularly purchasing content than is seen on Android," Shepherd said. "By comparison, there are Android devices in the market from a variety of vendors, catering to all price points. A user who has bought a $150 low-end Android device is not likely to spend as much money on apps as a user that has bought a $600 iPhone, though they may still download free apps."

It's interesting to note that emerging markets, including South America and Indonesia showed strong growth in the quarter. Smartphone growth in the developing countries is helping spur the surge in app downloads and purchases. According to a report from IDC, smartphone growth in Brazil alone grew 78 percent in 2012.

But mature markets—like North America and western Europe—still hold the title for the most robust growth in terms of downloads and revenue according to the report.

In North America, app revenue was up 8 percent and downloads increased by 6 percent. For western Europe, revenue increased by 8 percent and downloads by 10 percent.