Year in Review: Google Play vs. Apple App Store

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Over the course of 2012, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have fought many battles. The ongoing war between these top tech companies is predicated on a constantly-evolving ecosystem of hardware and software that is punctuated with patent litigation, and the whole ordeal is tremendously difficult to analyze or understand. Thankfully, there’s Distimo, an application and market analytics firm, which just released its “2012 Year in Review” report.

The report focuses on the relative performance of the Apple App Store and Google Play. The significance of the application ecosystem has grown alongside total smartphone adoption, which reports indicate passed 50 percent penetration in the United States, or 119.3 million people, as of the end of September.

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According to comScore, for the three-month period ended in October, Google’s Android claimed 53.6 percent of the total U.S. smartphone subscriber base, a 1.4 point change from the previous three-month period. Apple claimed 34.3 percent of the market, a 0.9 point increase from the same period. For its part, Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) claimed 7.8 percent of the market, a 1.7 point drop from the previous period, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) claimed 3.2 percent, a 0.4 point drop.

The approximate positioning of these major platform providers has been well understood for a while, and most news in the arena has been about the different ways and rates that each platform has grown. In line with the general theme of events this year, the Distimo report summarizes the difference between Apple and Google in this way: Google Play downloads have grown faster since its launch, but Apple’s App Store is better at monetization.

Here are the highlights from the report…

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