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Mobile App User Acquisition: Google Play vs. App Store

Written by: Collin Burke, Content Marketing Intern

Marketers make a lot of choices on a daily basis, and the information they act on changes frequently. In an effort to keep the advertising industry straight, we’ve launched a series of blog posts, affectionately titled “Versus.” Here we will discuss two powerful discovery platforms, and how each can help app developers boost user acquisition.

There’s an app for everything these days.

Want to improve your tooth brushing skills? There’s an app for that.

Want to send your friend a message in Aaron Paul’s voice? Well, there’s an app for that, too.

Want to detect nearby ghosts? Yes, really — there’s an app for that.

There are more than 2.5 million apps in Google Play and the App Store combined, and 1600+ new apps are added each day. With such a flooded market, saying that it’s hard to stand out from the crowd is an understatement.

Acquiring mobile app users is incredibly challenging, but understanding the app store landscape can make things a little easier.

So, what are the differences between Google Play vs. the Apple Store? Here’s the breakdown:

google play storeGoogle Play

Google Play is the official app store for Android. It is branded to encourage users to play mobile games. But there’s much more to Google Play than just games — all sorts of apps are available to Android users.

  • Unlike iOS, Android operates on a wide variety of smartphones and tablets. Give your app screenshots visual context by using this device art generator to wrap them with Android device artwork.
  • Android phones and tablets tend to be more cost effective than iPhones and iPads. Because of this, Android users are generally more frugal, so paid apps can be extra hard to scale. Most app downloads come from simple, quick, free games (like Flappy Bird) that don’t generate revenue from in-app purchases.
  • That said, digital content can be sold to users with Google Play In-App Billing.
  • Google Play has generated more downloads than the App Store.
  • Last year, 53% of users discovered apps through the Google Play search engine — 8% more than the App Store.
  • App titles are limited to 30 characters, so use them wisely! Include only your most important keywords.
  • App descriptions have a 4,000 character limit, and they are searchable! Including keywords multiple times can help with app store optimization (ASO), but take it easy on the keyword stuffing — it’s not Thanksgiving.
  • Developers can link to Google Analytics to track user acquisition and engagement. This free tool can provide valuable app insights.

app store

App Store

The iOS App Store is the official hub for Apple apps. In many ways, it is similar to Google Play. At their cores, they are both places where users can discover new apps. However, there are significant differences between them.

  • The App Store is only accessible on Apple devices: iPhones, iPads, and iPods.
  • These devices tend to be more expensive than Android devices, so paid apps and in-app purchases in the App Store have more potential than in Google Play.
  • Various digital items can be sold to users with In-App Purchase.
  • The App Store has generated more revenue than Google Play.
  • 47% of users discover apps through the App Store search engine — slightly less than Google Play, but still crucial to app success.
  • App titles have a limit of 255 characters, but don’t use them all. Keep your titles succinct, and only include your most important keywords.
  • Descriptions aren’t searchable in App Store, so don’t worry about keywords. Be sure to put the absolute most important keywords in the title.
  • There is a keyword field where you have 100 characters to insert your most important tags — use these wisely.
  • Google Analytics can’t be linked to App Store apps, but that doesn’t mean similar tools aren’t out there. Nanigans’ SDK can help you build a full story of customer lifetime value.


Despite the overall similarity between Google Play and the App Store, significant differences do exist between the two. Recognizing these differences and using them to your advantage will help you acquire more users for your mobile app.

Want more tips on engaging potential end users?

Read “Before User Acquisition: Prep Your Mobile Game For Success”

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